Burroughs High boys’ volleyball Coach Joel Brinton likes to tell the story about an encounter he had with player Tyler Yanez prior to last season.
Brinton had Yanez run around the school, and the coach decided to accompany his player on the trek.
“We started talking, and I asked him about his goals for the season,” Brinton said. “He thought about it and he said ‘I want to get first-team all-league this year.’ When he said that I just stopped him right there. I told him ‘What are you talking about? ‘You should be league MVP this year.’
“I really didn’t think he thought he had a chance to accomplish something like that. But that kind of set his mind to thinking that he could actually do that. That’s when it became his goal, and he expected get that goal.”
Yanez, a junior, remembers the conversation.
“When I talked about it with Coach B, that’s when I thought that it was something that was going to be my goal,” said Yanez, a setter. “That really was a main goal for me.”
With a great deal of hard work, Yanez accomplished his goal, sharing Pacific League co-Player of the Year honors with Geoff Powell from Claremont.
But that wasn’t the only hardware Yanez would pick up. Along with capturing most valuable player honors in the Crescenta Valley Tournament, he was also voted to the All-CIF Southern Section Division II third team.
In addition, he enjoyed a campaign in which he broke his share of Burroughs school records.
Along with his individual success, Yanez played a pivotal role in the success of the Indians’ program in 2010. That campaign included an improbable share of the league crown and a win in the playoffs — both firsts for the program.
It is because of these accomplishments that Yanez has been named the 2010 Boys’ Volleyball Player of the Year by the sports editors and writers of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun.
There was a definite transformation for Yanez as a player from his sophomore season to his junior campaign. As a sophomore, Yanez was only an all-league honorable mention.
Along with competing for Burroughs, Yanez said he has been able to gain experience and work on his skills playing for his Santa Monica Beach Club team. He said the competition playing for the club squad, along with his tutelage under Brinton, has helped him step up his game.
“My coach for club is a really good coach, and he’s a setter,” he said. “So, he kind of knows what it takes to be a good setter. Learning that from him and all that I’ve learned from Coach B has really helped me.”
Brinton said the 6-foot-1 Yanez has shown a steady progression since he was thrust into a starting role for the Indians during his sophomore year.
“His sophomore year he started the season sharing the setting responsibilities,” Brinton said. “We went through some turmoil on the team and about half-way through the season I told him that he is going to be our setter.
“It was like he was waiting to hear that, and waiting for the responsibility. After that, he just took off. I think having that confidence helped him be more successful with us, and that carried over to his club team.”
That work helped him put together a successful 2010 year for the Indians. Yanez set school records for assists with 722 and blocks with 63. He also had 68 kills and led the team with 28 aces.
His accomplishments weren’t lost on his peers in CIF Southern Section Division II, as he was named to the All-CIF third team.
In earning the All-CIF honor, Yanez became the only Burbank-area player to earn the accolade this past season, and is the first athlete from Burroughs to be recognized for the accomplishment in the four-year history of the program.
“With my main goal of getting Pacific League MVP, I didn’t even think about getting All-CIF,” Yanez said. “But getting [the award] makes the season even better. It’s an honor to be named All-CIF.”
Tyler Yanez, along with his twin brother, Lucas, and key contributors Nick LaFrance, Ike Nwachie, Spencer Perez and Robby Rutecki, helped Burroughs become the surprise of the Pacific League. The Indians improved from a fourth-place finish in 2009 to become one of the top two squads in the league.
Along with two wins against Crescenta Valley, Burroughs also defeated powerhouse Claremont and earned a share of the league crown. It was the first league championship for a program under Brinton, who was voted the league’s coach of the year for the second consecutive season.
The Indians also enjoyed other milestones during the campaign. Along with winning the Crescenta Valley Tournament championship — the program’s first tourney title — Burroughs also captured its first postseason contest.
Burroughs (23-8) defeated Hart, 25-21, 25-22, 25-19, to win its first-round Division II match.
The team also had an 11-match win streak during the season and won 19 of its final 21 matches.
As the starting setter, Yanez played a key role in helping Burroughs attain that success. Whereas many setters are content on just passing and setting up teammates, Brinton said Yanez brings much more to the table, and relishes coming to the net.
“Most of the time the setter is usually the shortest guy on the floor, and they like to stay in the back,” said Brinton “But Tyler is a big athletic kid who can do everything. Really, one of his favorite things is coming to the net to block.”
Yanez said he has worked on his game so that he isn’t just a one-dimensional player.
“I like to be aggressive at the net,” he said. “Sometimes just setting can get a little boring, so I get in more of the action.”
Coming from a sports-minded family — his father, Art, is a former Burroughs football player and longtime coach at the school — Yanez was able to pull off an impressive double this past school year. Along with his brother, both not only won a league title in volleyball, but as football players they helped the Indians win a share of the league crown last fall.
“That was pretty cool,” said Yanez — who plays wide receiver — about the championships. “It was really nice to win it with my brother.”
With the majority of the team coming back next year, the Indians hope to add to their success.
“He’s already talking about goals for next year,” Brinton said. “He’s ready.”