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2015 Register's volleyball player of the year: TJ DeFalco, Huntington Beach
All TJ DeFalco did at Huntington Beach was win.
The senior outside hitter had a career record of 114-2 as a member of the Oilers, leading the team to three consecutive CIF-SS Division 1 and CIF Southern California Regional titles.
Both of those losses came in 2013.
It’s probably safe to say that, if he continues on his quest to take over the sport of volleyball, DeFalco will earn a spot among the best athletes to come out of Huntington Beach High and Orange County.
If he’s not there already.
“He’s as good as I’ve seen at this level and I’ve been around as a player and coach for almost 30 years,” Huntington Beach coach Craig Pazanti said. “He is special. For what he’s done ... his will to win, his intensity are unmatched.
“Obviously he has all of the physical attributes. He’s a big jumper, he has a heavy, heavy arm, but it is the mental side of the game that I think he plays better. It is almost like watching someone play chess and he’s a move ahead of everybody else. He’s a different kid than he was two years ago.”
For his continued high-level of play and leadership, DeFalco is the Register’s Orange County boys volleyball player of the year for the second consecutive year.
DeFalco led the Oilers this season with 457 kills, averaging 4.9 kills per set. He finished with a kill percentage of 56 percent. He also had 215 digs, with 34 aces and 35 blocks.
If there was one match this season that showed off all of DeFalco’s abilities, it was the CIF-SS Division 1 final against Corona del Mar. The Oilers, whose winning streak had swelled to 100 matches, were pushed to a deciding fifth set.
DeFalco was concerned that the emotionally charged atmosphere in the gym had shaken up some of his teammates. He pulled aside the team’s setter, Josh Tuaniga, and told him to “(set) me as many balls as you can.”
The Long Beach State-bound senior finished the match with 41 kills, including the first eight points in the fifth set. He also posted a ridiculous high (.522) hitting percentage.
DeFalco has been in a unique situation. He trained with the U.S. National team this spring, and he took what he learned there to his high school matches.
“I’ve seen just about every aspect of my game change since being around those guys and watching what they do,” he said of the national team players. “Just seeing what they do and then implementing it into my game.”
DeFalco was selected to the preliminary roster for the FIVB World League roster. He was recently added to the 25-man Youth National Training team roster and he said he will be on the Pan-American Game roster this summer.
“For him to be doing what he’s doing at his age, he’s way ahead of the learning curve as far as anybody else in this area has been,” Pazanti said. “We’ve had some good volleyball players come out of Huntington Beach High School and some good ones come out of Orange County, and I would say he’s right on par with the best of the best right now.”
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