By Keith Lair ~ SGV Tribune
James Valeanu learned that becoming a special volleyball player would take special practices.
“I would ask my coaches to come on Saturdays to help with my passing and stuff and get better with it,” the Los Altos High School junior said.
Those extra one-on-one practice sessions sure paid off. Valeanu helped the Conquerors to a share of the Hacienda League title, he was the league MVP and is the Boys Volleyball Player of the Year.
“He helped me out in a big amount,” Valeanu said of coach Paul Sanchez and the Los Altos staff. “He would help me with my form and how to pass.”
The outside hitter has been playing volleyball for only three years; since his freshman season. He said a friend asked him to come to a practice one day, fresh off the basketball court.
“I showed up and came to it naturally,” he said. “I did not know the sport very well.”
Los Altos tied Claremont and Damien for the league title this season; a big accomplishment. Damien had won the four previous league titles and Claremont has long been a dominant powerhouse, before it moved from the Pacific League.
“We’re trying to bring the sport up,” Valeanu said. “”Not having won a league title in a long time, we’re trying to bring it back to the school.”
The Conquerors reached the CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinals, falling to top seed Katella in four games.
“We had a tremendous season with a really great group of guys,” he said. “They pushed you and pushed you.”
He had 168 kills, at a .412 hitting clip, 112 digs and 25 aces.
“The ball was evenly distributed, so when I had a chance to take a kill, I had to take every opportunity to do it,” he said.
James Valeanuu was also honored by being named to the Division 4 All-CIF team. In addition to Valeanu, Senior Victor De La Cruz was named first team All-Area and Senior Libero Misael Avila was an Honorable Mention.