By John Philip Wyllie
Over the last several years, you could probably count on one hand the number of times that any South Bay team has defeated perennial CIF champion La Costa Canyon in volleyball. So far this season, the seventh ranked Otay Ranch Mustangs have done it twice. One of the reasons has been the play of junior defensive specialist, Andre Fajardo.
“Andre is a super-positive young man. Whenever anyone makes a mistake out on the court he is the first one out there to try and pick them up. He is very vocal and he is an easy going, coachable kid,” said Mustangs assistant coach, Janis Redmond.
Last year, while on the junior varsity team, Fajardo enjoyed the glory that comes with accumulating kills and pounding the ball. This season, as one of many strong players on a very talented team he is being asked to move out of his comfort zone and play a different role.
“I’ve been very impressed with the way he has taken on his new role. He is playing in a capacity that he is not used to,” Redmond explained. “Some guys are stars and can play all the way around. Other guys (like Fajardo) are more role players.”
While his teammates are stacking up the kills and the glory, Fajardo is doing the behind the scenes dirty work on the back line. Digging to save balls that other players might give up on, Fajardo’s hustle and positive energy have been a catalyst. And his consistent serving has often provided the Mustangs with momentum.
When he entered high school two years ago, he was more interested in football. His thinking has changed since then and volleyball has become his primary passion. Once he graduates, his goal is to continue playing at Grossmont College under former U.S. Olympian and professional star, Angela Rock.
“I’ve been playing volleyball since my freshman year. In the off-season I work hard, lift weights and play year round with the Seaside Volleyball Club up in Del Mar,” Fajardo said.
His Mustangs, in just their third year of existence, captured the South Bay League in 2006. Having moved over to the Mesa League for the current season, the Mustangs hope to win back-to-back titles and advance deeper this time into the CIF playoffs. And they may just have the team to do it. With outstanding players such as Youssif El-Rakabawy, Ariel Pablico, the Mustangs have many strengths and few weaknesses.