Setting an Indians standard

When Tyler Yanez arrived at Burroughs High four years ago as a freshman, the Indians boys' volleyball program was in its infancy.

With the team's inaugural season taking place just the year before, Burroughs struggled to get its footing in its first year of existence. It was relegated to an also-ran in the Pacific League and the Indians failed to make the playoffs.

Along with twin brother Lucas, Tyler Yanez began to help lift the program as a sophomore when he joined the varsity squad along with his brother.

"When we were freshmen, I think the varsity team came in something like fourth place in league," Tyler Yanez said. "And for our sophomore year, we really didn't do that much better."

With Tyler leading the team from his setter position, the Indians continued a meteoric climb as a program in 2010 when the squad surprisingly tied for the league championship.

That was followed by a historic 2011 season. Yanez set the tone for a squad that won its first undisputed Pacific League title, worked its way to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship match and notched an upset win in the state playoffs.

"Everything just kept getting better and better each year, and we were winning more and more," Tyler said. "Looking back at my freshman and sophomore years, I couldn't have even imagined that we would make it to the CIF championship in this short of a time."

Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton said he has been impressed with Yanez' progression since he came into the program four years ago with little previous volleyball experience.

"He has just consistently gotten better each year and he has really grown, both mentally and physically, as a player over the years," Brinton said. "And what he was able to accomplish this season was amazing. He set some records that are going to be there for a while."

Breaking individual records and leading the Indians to a historic season were only two of the aspects that made Yanez a standout player, earning him co-Pacific League Player of the Year honors and All-CIF accolades along with Lucas.

It is because of those accomplishments that Tyler Yanez, for a second straight year, was a unanimous choice as the 2011 All-Area Boys' Volleyball Player of the Year by the sports writers and editors of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun.

With a large contribution from the Yanez brothers, the Indians (34-5) rolled to a Pacific League title, going undefeated in the process. Burroughs then marched its way through the Division III playoffs, advancing to the championship match against Cerritos Valley Christian at Cypress College, losing, 27-25, 25-27, 25-18, 25-16.

It was the Indians' first trip to the finals after a second round exit the season before.

Burroughs also participated in the Southern California Regional Championships. The Indians showed they belonged in state competition, upsetting host Thousand Oaks, 25-22, 25-12, 23-25, 25-23, in the first round before falling to Otay Ranch in four games.

It was the first time the program had earned a bid to the state playoffs.

Although the Indians had their hearts set on winning a CIF title — which would have been a first at the school in any sport — Tyler said he and his teammates can be proud of what they were able to accomplish.

"It was definitely a good accomplishment for what we were able to do this year," he said. "But our goal was to win a CIF championship. That was No. 1 for us. So, not being able to do that was a little disappointing. But all in all I think we were able to do some really good things."

Yanez was a consistent performer all season. He collected 837 assists, breaking his own school record of 722 set last year. His high for the season was 51 assists in a league match against Claremont. He ended his career with a record 2,079 assists. He also had 37 blocks and 27 aces.

"The way Tyler was able to improve this season had a lot more to do with things that weren't necessarily skill related, and things you might not always see on the court," said Brinton, who was named the Pacific League Coach of the Year. "Going into games with other teams, he already had a game plan and an idea of how we wanted to attack, and that was even before I had talked to him about it. It was his volleyball IQ, knowing the smartest thing to do, which really got better this season."

Yanez doesn't like to take complete credit for the solid numbers he put up this season.

"If it wasn't for [my teammates] I wouldn't have had the stats and I wouldn't have been able to do the things that I did," said Yanez, who was also a starting wide receiver on an Indians football team that won a league title. "They were the ones who would give me good passes so I could set them, and it was pretty much all them when it came to helping me out."

Said Lucas Yanez: "Tyler put in the hard work to be the player that he is. He really works a lot to improve."

There is little doubt that Tyler Yanez leaves the Burroughs program in much better shape than when he arrived.

Known recently as a school that enjoyed its share of success in football, because of the contributions of the Yanez brothers the past few years, Lucas said he hopes Burroughs has begun to receive attention for its boys' volleyball program, as well.

"It feels good to maybe have started that reputation for volleyball at the school," he said. "Some people didn't even know we had a volleyball team before the past few years."

They definitely know now.

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