Brownsville Rivera sophomore libero Richelle Guerra began training for her volleyball career when she was just 3 years old.
Her mother, Mary Elizabeth Avelar-Guerra, has been coaching Lady Raiders volleyball for nearly 30 years, and her father, Richard, is Rivera’s varsity assistant. Under their influence, Richelle Guerra grew up playing the sport and dreaming of being the next Lady Raiders star.
In two seasons with Rivera, Guerra has shown that her abilities match her abundant love of the game. The libero tallied 410 digs and 12 assists during the 2020 season to help the Lady Raiders clinch an undefeated District 32-6A title and move on to the second round of the playoffs. Guerra’s excellence in the libero role earned her The Brownsville Herald’s All-Metro volleyball defensive player of the year award.
“It means the absolute world to me,” Guerra said. “I’ve been dreaming about this since I was in elementary because I grew up around volleyball and I’ve seen (these awards) happen for alumni. I always thought to myself, ‘Man, I want that to be me one day.’ It’s a dream come true. I’m extremely grateful to be All-Metro defensive player of the year.”
Guerra said playing for her parents brought some pressure initially, especially when she made the varsity team as a freshman, but she got more relaxed as her strong performances continued to show that she deserved her place. As a freshman, Guerra was awarded District 32-6A libero of the year and All-Metro newcomer of the year. She defended her district libero title as a sophomore and “upgraded” with another All-Metro recognition.
Avelar-Guerra praised Guerra’s ability to read the court and the opposing offense. The coach said Guerra’s serve and knack for knowing when to catch an opponent off guard with a back row attack makes her more than just a defensive asset. Guerra recorded 25 aces and 29 kills during her sophomore season.
“It’s very crucial that we have a libero like her. It helps our team come together and start the plays that we need to run,” Avelar-Guerra said. “She can pick up everything because she’s everywhere, and that helps us a lot, because at the last minute, when you think a play is dead, she’ll come out of nowhere and get a dig. Or she’ll run and stick her arm out and bring the ball in when someone sends it out. She’s very smart on the court, and it’s very beneficial.”
Guerra was “very pleased” with her play this season, especially considering the unusual offseason and preseason due to COVID-19. She credited the team’s strong bond for the Lady Raiders’ collective and individual success, and she’s looking forward to keeping Rivera on top in her final two seasons.
“It’s great to feel accomplished and to show (doubters) that I know what I’m doing,” Guerra said. “I’m very excited for the next two years. I have big plans, big hopes and dreams that I want to accomplish, and I am driven and ready to take it on head first.
“I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me,” she added. “My parents especially. Since I was very little, they’ve been training me to be the player I am today, and I’m very honored that they’ve been working with me this whole time. My grandparents, too. They try to make every game, no matter how busy they are, any time and any place.”