WATSONVILLE — He takes two steps, explodes from the ground, reaches his right arm back, contorts his body into the shape of a bow, then like the release of a slingshot a rapid and controlled strike comes down.
All the opposition can do is jump, raise their hands and hope that they don’t get taken off.
He’s fired up and ready for another kill. You wouldn’t know it by looking at his face, because of his quite demeanor, but the game of volleyball is Armando Torres’ passion.
“I hope that one day I can go to college and play volleyball,” said Torres. “I haven’t really thought about it because I’m just a junior, but it is one of my goals.”
As a junior Torres is leading the Monterey Bay League in kills and is also fifth in digs.
Though the game is his passion, Torres wasn’t always the dominating force that he is today.
In sixth grade Torres tried out for E.A. Hall Middle School, but he was cut. It was just one of the things that has driven Torres to be the player that he is now.
Another factor has been the time that he has spent in club volleyball in the summer with his teammates and head coach Derrick Moore.
“Armando is just a machine,” said Moore. “He’s elevated his game so much. He’s just put in the time during the summer in practice. We know that when it’s crunch time he’s going to give us that smash that we need to end the match. He just goes up there with no fear.”
That no fear attitude that Torres believes in and says on a daily basis helped him notch 36 kills against the Hollister Haybalers on April 9 at Watsonville in a match-up of MBL powerhouses.
He struck down seven of those kills in a row to end the match and bring Watsonville back from a four-point deficit.
Despite all the hollering and hoopla that he gets on the court, off the court Torres is still an easy-going person off of it.
He hangs out with his setter Ivan Mendez on a daily basis, most commonly during the lunch hour.
Some of his favorite spots during the lunch period range from El Frijolito, where he always gets a Super Burrito de Carnitas, to the local Chinese food places, when he enjoys a stacked plate of rice and chow mein. Torres simply likes the “good stuff”.
His life at home with his father Abel, Mother Maria, younger sister Fatima and older Brother Abel, who they simply call Junior, couldn’t be better, but there is one thing that his brother Junior asks of him.
To keep playing football.
Junior, like Armando, played volleyball and he also carried the pigskin around while in high school.
“I like to play both,” said Torres with a shoulder shrug and a small smirk on his face. “In football I get to hit people, and in Volleyball I get to smash people. Their both pretty good feelings.”
Even now deep into his season football coaches are still nagging him to come to weightlifting and off season workouts, but Torres knows he has a commitment to Moore and his team.
He says he’s a linebacker in the Fall and a volleyball player in the Spring.
As his game has grown through this offseason, so has his family’s support for watching his volleyball games. They now make every game and ask friends to tag along and support their son.
His family isn’t the only people that have noticed a jump in his game this year from lasts.
Mendez said that the time that he spent on volleyball in the summer with club has shaped his game.
“He never hit like this last year,” said Mendez. “I think club really helped him because we used to play every single day and weekends. This is just the result of that.”
Another thing he hopes changes is how his season will end. Last year the Wildcatz were knocked out of the CCS playoffs in the first round and he doesn’t plan an early exit this year.
“It felt good going to CCS,” said Torres. “But the game wasn’t that good. We weren’t that prepared, but this year we’re going to be good.”
Make no mistake though; Torres’ world doesn’t just revolve around volleyball. He likes to go watch movies with his girlfriend Selena Corona of a year and a month that he met in Biology class sophomore year.
You can also catch him bumping the old school hip-hop of Eazy-E and other West Coast rappers.
He keeps the same mentality in his relationship that he does with his team.
Just enjoy it, one day at a time, and if everything goes right in just five days, he’ll have lead the Wildcatz to their first MBL title and their first undefeated season.
For the complete article see the 04-20-2013 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-20-2013 paper.
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