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All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Volleyball: Tanner Skabelund

Skabelund was part of a historic West Ranch team this year

Posted: June 16, 2013 10:30 p.m.
Updated: June 16, 2013 10:30 p.m.

West Ranch senior Tanner Skabelund is The Signal's 2013 All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Volleyball Player of the Year. Photo by Dan Watson/The Signal

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Years from now, it won’t be possible to look back at the last two years of West Ranch boys volleyball without thinking of Tanner Skabelund.

He’ll forever be synonymous with one of the most memorable stretches the school may ever see in the sport.

Last year, it was a historic playoff run.

This year’s accomplishments come with some hardware — a 2013 Foothill League championship banner. It will be the school’s first to be hung up for volleyball in either gender due to the fact that Valencia has guarded the league crown so stubbornly for so many years on both the girls and boys side.

But this year was different. The West Ranch Wildcats succeeded where so many before them have failed, becoming the first team to win the Foothill championship other than Valencia since 2000.

It’s hard to imagine them doing it without Skabelund.

That’s what makes the senior outside hitter The Signal’s 2013 All-Santa Clarita Valley Boys Volleyball Player of the Year.

As a team, West Ranch had all the key elements of a champion. There was the reliable setter in Christian Cayabyab, the experienced defensive presence of Ben Davis and the unprecedented height in the front row.

That’s where the 6-foot-11 Skabelund came in as he stood alongside fellow 6-foot-11 senior Brenton Scott.

Most college volleyball teams don’t have that kind height to work with. What made Skabelund stand out among other towering player though was his skill and coordination with the ball.

Often times the tallest players on the team are used as blockers, but rarely see the ball due to a lack or mobility.

In Skabelund’s case, his team couldn’t wait to send the ball his direction because he was the most dangerous hitter in the league when he got into a rhythm.

He has the leaping ability to get up and hit over just about any blocker, but his game is also refined enough to know when to go for spot kills.

Last November, he signed with Brigham Young University, where he’ll begin his college volleyball career in two years following his Mormon mission trip.

Skabelund finished with 327 kills this season, which was second in the Foothill.

Coming into the season with much-improved serving skills, Skabelund also knocked down a team-high 59 aces.

Not only did the Wildcats win league, they dominated it by going 10-0 in league matches and winning 30 out of 31 games against Foothill opponents.

That’s all Skabelund wanted, he later admitted. It meant even more to him than the team’s first appearance in a CIF semifinal match the previous year.

Skabelund and Wildcats ended Valencia’s run at the top, but they also may have started a run of their own.

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