Joe Mariles has been coaching the boys volleyball team at Ganesha for 15 years. It hasn’t always been an easy task. The school hasn’t had great tradition in sports and boys volleyball is a sport where it can be hard to field a competitive team, especially given the demographic make up of the school.
But the Giants are making some noise and hoping for a win or two in the playoffs which begin tonight. Ganesha will host a first round Division 5 match against CAMS with first serve set for 7 p.m.
Ganesha is 22-4 overall, which includes a 12-0 mark in Miramonte League play. This is the school’s third league title, the others coming in 2011 and 2012.
The team has no year-round/club players, just a hard-working group of student-athletes who have found modest success in other sports and chemistry on the court.
Mariles is also the on-campus adviser for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) so many of his athletes are students he has had come through that program.
“These kids all get along well,” he said. “They play other sports and they know each other from those or from AVID. The important thing is I really want them to have fun.”
Among the top players on the team is senior Jose Espinoza, an All-CIF selection in soccer, the sport in which Ganesha has had the most success. He leads the team in kills with 263.
The there is sophomore Jorge Barajas, the team’s top basketball player. Mariles says he’s the most athletic player and the real “X-factor.” He is third on the team in kills (118) and boasts a team-high 103 blocks.
Senior Santana Carbajal is the team’s setter.
It is always nice to win but Mariles uses athletics as a teaching tool and a vehicle through which life lessons can be learned. Kevin Martinez is second on the team in kills. He’s going to UCLA but won’t be playing sports. He’ll focus on being a student.
Defensive specialist Hugo Ortega is headed to USC.
“We want them to excel at the next level,” Mariles said. “It’s more about academics than anything else, because that’s something they’re going to carry with them the rest of their life.”