Fri, May 24 2013 05:37 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
Otay Ranch High School administrators attending Tuesday’s Southern California regional quarterfinal-round boys volleyball playoff match were hard pressed to determine if there had been another team within the Sweetwater district that had compiled three consecutive San Diego Section division championship titles.
The Mustang spikers, of course, are currently working on such a streak after topping the Mesa League rival Eastlake Titans, 3-1, for last Saturday’s Division I title at Cathedral Catholic High School.
A check of the section record book shows the ORHS boys volleyball team isn’t the first team to accomplish that. The EHS girls basketball team won three consecutive CIF titles from 1996-98. The Mater Dei Catholic softball team entered Thursday’s CIF semifinals riding a streak of three straight Division IV titles while that school’s baseball team won titles from 1998-2000.
“Every one of the three is special but it’s our third in a row, so it’s getting better and better,” ORHS coach Tony Fajardo said. “It doesn’t get easier. It gets tougher.”
The top-seeded Mustangs defeated the third-seeded Titans for the third time this season, though the latest encounter was likely the most hotly contested.
Otay Ranch emerged with a 25-23, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21 victory. All three match-ups between the east side rivals ended in four games this season.
It was the first time that two Metro teams had met in a CIF final since 1992.
“It was special in that it was two teams from the South County on a bigger stage,” Fajardo said. “The match was played in North County. It made a statement.”
Andrew Freiha led the victorious Mustangs with 28 kills, followed by Jared Arias with 19 kills. Freiha also contributed three aces while Arias had two aces and 18 digs. Adrian Ventura had two aces, 54 assists and 12 digs for the three-time CIF champs while Brandon Galluba had 22 digs.
Ivan Sinclair led the division runner-up Titans with 11 kills while teammate Kai Valdivieso had 10 kills. Sinclair also had three blocks.
Eastlake ended its season 20-12.
Otay Ranch has gotten used to raising banners; the Mustangs are currently working on a string of eight consecutive league titles.
“It’s great, it’s awesome to have been there for all three CIF titles,” Arias said. “I wish I could win a fourth but that’s the luck of being a senior.”
“We’re ecstatic that Otay Ranch continued its CIF winning streak,” Freiha said. “It’s really amazing because if we all had lived a couple blocks farther down the street (in a different enrollment area) we wouldn’t have had this opportunity.”
The Mustangs improved to 33-4 after sweeping the visiting Santa Fe Chiefs (25-8) in Tuesday’s regional opener. Second-seeded Otay Ranch won by scores of 25-15, 27-25, 25-19.
Freiha led the hosts with 16 kills while Arias collected 12 kills and Mitchell Duran had 11 kills. Ventura amassed 39 assists in the three-game sweep.
The Mustangs advanced to Thursday’s regional semifinal against third-seeded Loyola (31-4). The winner qualifies for Saturday’s regional championship at Santiago Canyon College in Orange.
“Historically, Loyola has been one of the top teams in the nation,” Fajardo said. “It’s our pleasure to play them; we’d like to be considered right up there with them.”
The Mustangs’ departing veterans believe their team is in good hands for the future.
“The guys coming up are doing a really good job of playing club and the JV team has a lot of talent,” Arias said. “We seniors are confident they can continue the winning tradition.”
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