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Diablo Valley Volleyball Club’s 17U Tool Shed boys squad left for Jr. Nationals with an ace up its sleeve In 15 years of coaching...

Diablo Valley Volleyball Club’s 17U Tool Shed boys squad left for Jr. Nationals with an ace up its sleeve

In 15 years of coaching volleyball at the high school and clubs levels, Steve Siegmann isn’t sure he’s ever had a team like his current one. And when Diablo Valley Volleyball Club’s 17U Tool Shed boys team begins play at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships in Dallas on July 1, Siegmann is hoping the rest of the Open Division teams haven’t seen anything like it either.

The following statements can more or less describe the makeup of Tool Shed.

• They are NOT exceedingly tall. (The team’s tallest player is a generous 6-foot, 5 inches.)

• They are NOT especially experienced. (As many as five players are in their first full season of club volleyball. One kid’s high school doesn’t even have a team.)

• They are NOT overly familiar with one another. (Unlike many club teams which have a core group that rises up the age ranks together, no more than four of five players have played extensively together prior to the team being assembled back in late 2011).

• They ARE very talented, very versatile, and can frustrate opponents to no end. (The team features three league MVPs from the high school season which wrapped up in late May.)


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Relentless Mantra

“We’re relentless,” said Nelson Fisher, a Diablo Valley Athletic League co-MVP for College Park High who — in a common theme — does a little bit of everything for Tool Shed. “We don’t give up. We don’t let the ball touch the ground, and we really just tick off the tall guys.”

What Siegmann’s team lacks in size it undoubtedly makes up for in ball control and precision. Something that has taken it’s toll on bigger teams that expect to pound the ball repeatedly against them.

“We’re definitely pretty small for our age group,” Siegmann said. “But, it’s probably one of the best defensive teams I’ve ever had.”

Despite the several elements that would seem to stunt the team’s growth, Tool Shed seemed to soar from the outset. The team jumped out to win it’s preseason tournament and continued on to a 12-1 start.

Perhaps their best performance came in early January, however. Taking part in the FarWestern Junior National Qualifier in San Mateo, the Tool Shed stormed to the championship match before losing to Southern California power Shorebreak. The runner-up finish was good enough to earn the Diablo Valley 17’s a bid to the Open Division of the Junior Nationals.

New heights

It was at that tournament that Tool Shed’s players reached a new level of confidence.

“That’s when everyone realized that we’re actually pretty good,” Tool Shed outside hitter Gabe Domecus said. “We also realized what it takes to win those types of tournaments. That was an eye opener for all of us.”

Domecus, a chiseled 6-foot-1 hitter and setter, put up monster numbers in leading St. Patrick/St. Vincent-Vallejo to a 35-4 record and North Coast Section Division III championship as a junior this past spring. He posted a gaudy 54.3 kill percentage, connecting on a total of 368. He added 222 digs, 136 aces, and piled up 455 assists in his time as a setter. It was no surprise to see him named the Bay Shore Athletic League MVP.

Domecus grew up in a volleyball family. His mom, Danette, is the head coach for St. Patrick/St. Vincent. He has one sister already playing collegiately for San Francisco State and another headed to play at Cal State Dominguez Hills. And according to Siegmann, Gabe is among the only Tool Shed players currently getting serious looks from Division-I schools.

“He’s one of our strongest hitters,” Siegmann said. “He has setting experience, but it got to a point where it was better for us to have him hitting full time and he’s taken advantage of it.”

Domecus wasn’t necessarily needed at setter because the third league MVP member of the Tool Shed is Deer Valley-Antioch setter Derrico Kwa.

Diablo Valley Volleyball is Dominant

“Derrico has really surprised me,” said Domecus, whose St. Patrick/St. Vincent team beat Deer Valley twice in tournaments during the high school season. “I’d seen him play high school when we played against him. But playing with him, you realize he’s such a good setter because he opens up hitting for everybody and makes it a lot easier on the hitters.”

With the presence of Kwa and Trevor Felix, a jack-of-all-trades talent who Siegmann coached at De La Salle-Concord during the high school season, the coach came to realize that his team could reach another level offensively under a new offensive scheme.

The scheme was one he implemented at De La Salle this season and found a great deal of success with — not just due to his players’ talents, but also to the fact that very few opposing teams had ever faced an offense like it. The offense seems to be an ideal system for Tool Shed, which carries a number of versatile players, all of which are adept at ball control.

“We can position people and put people in multiple positions at once,” said Felix, who is the primary serve-receiver in the offense in addition to stints at hitting and passing. “There’s always parts moving. Players aren’t going to be in the same spot on the court in each rotation. I know for a fact that there are 3-4 people who will hit left, middle and right. They don’t just stay in one position the entire time. So that’s going to mess with the blockers.

“We can take those people, since they are all versatile, and can move them around and swing them to different spots as much as we want. And that’s the key importance of this offense, that we can move people around so easily.”

Because Siegmann didn’t decide to install the new scheme until after the high school season, Tool Shed will be running the offense in competition for the first time at Junior Nationals.

Felix is quick to point out that if they can master the offense before arriving in Dallas, it could serve as a very effective element of surprise.

“To be honest, in my entire club and high school career, I’ve never seen an offense like this,” Felix said. “That’s what we’re relying on. That’s what will make it so effective because no one else has really seen it.”

Siegmann thinks that the offense alone could yield the team an average of at least five more points a game. Taking that into account, and adding the team’s already-stout defensive game, he thinks his unorthodox team might just have a chance at making a legitimate run in the Open Division.

“Realistically, we’re going to tell them ‘Let’s just give ourselves a chance and stay in the top half each day,’” Siegmann said. “If we just keep staying in that top half, we’ll get ourselves into the knockout round where anything can happen. Anything in the final Top 15 would be a good accomplishment for this team. Do I think we can do better? Yeah. But I think if we get inside that Top 15, it would be a good accomplishment.”

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