McLaughlin digs, then kills |

McLaughlin digs, then kills

Darin Olde, Tribune Sports Writer

Shawn McLaughlin — he’s a leading killer.

But you should watch him dig.

McLaughlin, 16, from South Lake Tahoe, helped the Diablo Valley 16s finish 23rd out of 32 teams in the 2002 USA Boys Junior Olympics Volleyball Championships in Louisville, Ky., last weekend.

McLaughlin had 23 kills, third for the team.

But he led Diablo Valley with 32 digs and eight aces.

Although Diablo Valley finished 23rd overall against some of the best teams in the country, the team and McLaughlin came together at the end of the year, said head coach Teresa Stratton.

The highlight was beating the Bay to Bay 16s — the team that took first place in the Northern California Volleyball Association. Diablo Valley won 25-20, 25-18, on the Fourth of July, beating the team that knocked them to runner-up for the year in their region.

The highlight of the event for McLaughlin, however, was watching his game improve.

“The last day, I played really well: I hit well and I passed well and came up with big plays right when we needed them. It felt good,” he said.

His performance didn’t go unnoticed.

“In order to do anything in volleyball you have to be able to pass,” Stratton said. “And Shawn and the other (two-man serve receiver), they were money. I knew that Shawn was going to be able to get the ball (to the setter). He is an excellent passer.”

Stratton said during the course of the tournament she could probably count the number of aces against Diablo Valley on one hand. And without a boys volleyball team at South Tahoe High School, that only speaks to McLaughlin’s ability.

“He needs to work on his jump,” conceded Stratton. But “with his training and desire he can definitely play at some (college) level in the future.”

According to Danny McLaughlin, Shawn’s father, some schools on the East Coast are already taking notice.

A lot will change, however, when Shawn advances to the 17-year-old age group next year. That, says Stratton, is when McLaughlin will really be in the college-level picture.

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