By John Philip Wyllie
Growing up with an African-American father and a Mexican-American mother Otay Ranch senior Brittany Powell takes pride in both branches of her family tree. Her outgoing, warm personality has earned her many friends that are Black, Mexican, White and Asian. Her multi-cultural background helps to make it easy for her to relate to people from all walks of life. And the athletic ability that she inherited from both sides of her family tree has helped to make her one of the South Bay’s dominant volleyball players. The Mustangs finished in second place in the Mesa League standings last season. This year they hope to challenge for a league title and advance deep into the CIF San Diego section tournament.
“Brittany is our biggest hitter and most experienced player,” said Mustangs coach, Deborah Isaia. “She is a leader on the court because of her strength and her seniority on the team. She goes for every ball every time as hard as she can. I also love her blocking ability and her aggressiveness. Last year, we barely made the playoffs. This year we should make a good run at the league title and qualify for the playoffs, but we are taking it one step at time. With Brittany (middle blocker) and Karina Hernandez (outsider hitter) as my strong hitters and go-to girls, we are a lot better than last year.”
Powell didn’t grow up with volleyball. Her career began when she enrolled at Otay Ranch three years ago. With a lot of athletic ability and determination she transformed herself in a relatively short time into an outstanding player. Volleyball has become a nearly year round sport for her. (In the spring she captured the league title for shot put and also hurled the discus). She believes she has made great strides under her Coast Volleyball Club coach, Carolyn Kirby.
“Carolyn really taught me how to play with heart. When you get out on the court you have to leave everything else behind whether it’s your boyfriend, school or whatever, and come ready to play not for yourself, but for your team.”
After she graduates in June, Powell hopes to continue playing volleyball in college.
“A lot of colleges were looking at me during the Reno Volleyball Festival in Nevada, so I think I have a good shot at it,” she said.
More immediately, Powell is enthusiast about the current season. She believes the talent is there.
“Last year we had a lot of cat fights. This year, we have a lot of younger girls and only four seniors, so we are teaching the sophomores and juniors the ropes. So far, everyone is getting along well. We seem more compatible and we have a lot more trust in each other this year.”
It remains to be seen whether that improved chemistry will translate into a league title.