Huntington Beach's TJ DeFalco (player of the year), left, and Saddleback Valley Christian's Ryan Van Rensselaer (coach of the year) received the Register's top volleyball awards for the 2015 season.

2015 Boys volleyball coach of the year: Ryan Van Rensselaer, SVC


Saddleback Valley Christian boys volleyball coach Ryan Van Rensselaer had enough open spots in this year’s lineup to give him a high level of concern when the season began.

Then it got worse when returning starter Zack Sherwood decided to give up volleyball and focus on baseball.

“He had only been playing a year, but losing him at my school was huge,” Van Rensselaer said.

The Warriors’ roster consisted of two seniors and 10 others - all freshmen or sophomores. Not exactly the makeup of a team that would be contending for a CIF-SS title.

Still, Van Rensselaer managed to get the best out of this year’s group. He led the Warriors to a third consecutive CIF-SS title - their first in Division 4 - and a second consecutive appearance in the CIF Southern California Regional finals.

For his work this season, Van Rensselaer is the Register’s Orange County boys volleyball coach of the year.

“These guys did so many awesome things this year,” Van Rensselaer said.


All-County boys volleyball team

Volleyball player of the year: TJ DeFalco, Huntington Beach

All-County boys volleyball: Second, third teams

The Warriors are one of seven schools in CIF-SS history to win three consecutive titles.

One of Van Rensselaer’s more creative moves came late in the season as he moved junior Noah Dyer to the outside, away from his normal roles of setter and opposite hitter.

“We were lacking a little bit with our ball control guys, and we were seeing our passing ratio go all over the board,” he said. “So moving him to that spot solved that issue, and it also gave us a back-row attack.

“All these programs run a 5-1 and have back-row attackers, and when you have a threat like Noah, you have to put him out there and that makes it tough on everybody else and it frees up some of guys who are role players to have 1-up every time because everybody is expecting Noah to get the set. It made my setter, who is a sophomore, much more mature and more strategic in the way he ran the offense.”

SVC was disappointed with how its season ended - a loss to Laguna Beach in the regional final.

So next year’s team, already has its motivation.

One additional drive for Van Rensselaer and the Warriors is to shake the small-school stigma. Van Rensselaer believes there is still work to be done in that area.

“I think we’re legit, right now, but a team is only good as their weakest link, right?” Van Rensselaer said. “I don’t have guys coming out of the woodwork, wanting to play for Saddleback Valley Christian.

“But every season, I look at the crew that I have, and I think what do I have to do with these guys? My conviction is how am I training them for life? Volleyball is just the platform. So whether they have volleyball experience or not, I still feel just as passionate about what am I supposed to do with this group of guys.”

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