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Thunder volleyball team wins title

By: Cecil Conley, Placer Herald Editor
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Tyson Norton has a tough act to follow as Rocklin High School’s boys’ volleyball coach. It will be his own after the Thunder won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship in his first season. Rocklin claimed the crown last Thursday with a 25-19, 18-25, 22-25, 30-28, 15-6 victory over Jesuit. Rocklin entered the playoffs after sharing the Sierra Foothill League title with Granite Bay. The Thunder (9-1, SFL, 29-5 overall) earned the league’s top playoff seed by virtue of winning one game at Granite Bay on May 3 after sweeping the Grizzlies at home on April 7. Granite Bay did not last long in the playoffs, losing its first match to Oak Ridge. Rocklin defeated Ponderosa and SFL rival Del Oro on its way to reaching the section finals for the second straight year Rocklin lost to Granite Bay in the 2010 finals. Norton started his first season by asking his players what it would take for the team to return to the section finals and win this time. “They all said we had to pass the ball,” Norton said. “We worked on passing every day in practice. We did it for 30-45 minutes. It was a mental grind and a focus challenge, but we were getting our technique down.” All that work paid off for the Thunder, especially in the fourth game against Jesuit. Rocklin was a point away from settling for second place on more than one occasion, but Norton’s team persevered. Once Rocklin had momentum on its side, the Thunder handled the Marauders (26-9) in the fifth game. “They were all into it,” Norton said of his players. Three of those players – seniors Grant Currey, Christian Mata and Grant Wilson – played for the North team last Friday in the annual Optimist All-Star Match at Capital Christian High. Norton was the North coach. Currey was named the North MVP after the North’s 25-17, 25-22, 19-15, 24-26, 16-14 victory over the South. The UC San Diego-bound Currey was also the Co-Player of the Year in the SFL. “He wants it more than anybody else on the court,” Norton said of Currey. “Anything I asked of him, he did it.”