Feet stomped and people cheered at every move on Friday’s round of the Fifth Annual Pierce College Brahma Invitational Women’s Volleyball Tournament. In the south Gym, Pierce was locked in a battle to advance to the semifinals on Saturday. You could sense the desire for victory in the air. Just across the service road in the North Gym, a different battle was brewing with identical stakes.
Bakersfield College was dueling for its spot in the next round. Both Pierce and Bakersfield had much to play for, as if they both won their respective games, they’d come to face each other in the semifinals for a chance to take the tournament in the finals. Perhaps the only ones more anxious for that game then the players, were the coaches. Nabil Mardini, and Carl Ferreira, coaches for Pierce and Bakersfield, respectively. Friends for a decade and competitive juggernauts. They’d square off in a battle of the coaches.
Mardini moved to the united states in 1989 from Lebanon, and attended UCLA before beginning his coaching career. Mardini has been coaching for 15 years at Pierce, and has built a solid reputation for himself as well as his teams. Bakersfield Head coach, and friend of a decade, Ferreira admires his conviction on the court and morality off of it.
“I respect him, I admire him, and I appreciate him. He’s honest, trustworthy, and respectful, and that’s what I like in people. I like people that are men of their word. As a coach I think he’s built the best women’s volleyball program in the junior college system in the state of California; hands down. I think Pierce is the benchmark people look at for success and he’s humble about it. He doesn’t do it in an entitled or arrogant way, he does it through work and he holds his athletes to a superior standard of morals and values. If you can’t uphold the Brahma way, then don’t play for Nabil, because he’s not going to sacrifice standards for talent. I appreciate that.”
At this moment, Ferreira learned that Pierce had just won their quarterfinal game and they’d face each other in the semifinals on Saturday.
“I love playing against Nabil. It’s challenging and we’ve battled each other for 11 years now and it’s always fun” Said Ferreira.
Ferreira, a Hawaii native, has garnered much respect in the volleyball scene and has made a lasting impact on all who he coaches. After coaching at The University of Oregon, he was offered a full time gig at Bakersfield College in 2005 as head coach, where he has stayed, building a renowned program ever since. It was around this time Mardni and Ferreira began taking place in friendly competition. Mardini has vast respect for Ferreira and acknowledges his strategic threat to the Pierce team.
“We have a lot of mutual respect. I consider him one of the guys I really look up to; A real mentor. I love playing his teams because I know they’re very well trained, so I look at it as a challenge. you really have to put your working head on and make adjustments. He knows the game very well. Even if the talent is not even pound for pound, his teams are very well trained and he gets the most out of them. Very very dangerous to play. Even if you have more talent, they can find a way to push you.” Said Mardini.
Mardini was excited to hear that he’d get a chance to coach against his respected colleague on Saturday.
“It’s not about proving who’s better it’s about learning. Every time we play him, it’s always a good match.” Said Mardini.
Pierce went on to beat Bakersfield in the semifinals, winning their first two sets (25-12, 25-13), narrowly losing the third (25-27), but taking the fourth (25-10) as well as the spot in the finals against Mesa College. Pierce ultimately won the invitational in three rounds against Mesa.