PLAYOFF PROFILES : Sylmar Sticks to Steady Diet

Anne Guevarra, only 5 feet 1, often is asked how she manages to spike a volleyball through 6-foot-tall middle blockers.

Her answer: Rice.

Sylmar High’s senior outside hitter chows down servings of it three times a day.

Before a recent match against Poly, she even inked the word “rice” on her shoulder.


Starch power.

“It’s the rice,” said Guevarra, who leads the top-seeded Spartans (14-0) against fourth-seeded Poly (11-4) in tonight’s City Section 3-A semifinals at Sylmar. “I’ve grown up on it.”

Though Guevarra strays--sometimes as far as under the golden arches--she basically sticks to her rice regimen.

Fine with Sylmar Coach Bob Thompson, who has his own theory as to why Guevarra can trade kills with the best of them.

“She has some very natural leaping ability, combined with excellent timing and technique,” Thompson said. “And she knows how to take advantage of the set that she’s given.”

Guevarra has found holes in several different defenses this season, something Poly already knows. Guevarra had 29 kills when the teams met two weeks ago in a Valley Pac-8 Conference regular-season match. She also contributed 21 digs for the Spartans, who won in five games.

More crafty than powerful, Guevarra has precise placement and touch. She doesn’t rattle defenders at the net with thunderous spikes. She simply hits the ball where they aren’t.

“I don’t really worry about their height,” she said. “Coach has taught us to look at their arms and hit it to a spot where nobody is.”

Guevarra also has an eye on the Spartans’ quest to repeat as 3-A champions.

“We need to keep playing like we have been the whole season--together, and with communication,” she said. “We’re focusing on Poly. Once that’s over, we’ll look toward [the championship match] Saturday.”

Better bring soy sauce.