Recently graduated Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.) senior Brandon Browning wanted to take the next step with his game for the 2018 season.
So he did something about it. More specifically he got after it in the weight room.
“It goes hand-in-hand, for sure,” Browning said. “I had a definite sense of physicality this season. I felt before guys around me were hitting balls harder and were more physical at the net blocking-wise.
“I hit the weight room and worked harder in the gym and it showed on the court. It was because I worked hard in the weight room, for sure.”
Browning’s improvement this season in all phases of his game helped CdM win not only a CIF Division I Southern Section title, but also a CIF SoCal Division I regional title. Accordingly, the CIF Division I Southern Section player of the year also is the 2018 VolleyballMag.com/TallSlim Tees Boys High School Player of the Year.
Browning’s appointment follows that of his CdM team, which was named the 2018 VolleyballMag.com/TallSlim Tees team of the year after winning CIF section and region titles against rival Newport Harbor.
“Brandon is pretty darned skilled,” CdM coach Steve Conti said. “He’s not small. He’s 6-4. But he got up in the morning and lifted from 6-7:30 a.m., a couple times a week and worked very hard. Before, other people may have questioned how hard he hit the ball. This year, some balls he hit on, holy smokes. The bigger the match, the bigger Brandon played.”
Conti had particular praise for Browning’s serve-receive.
“Brandon is one of the best passers I’ve coached,” he said.
Browning, a 6-4 outside hitter, said that’s No. 1 on his self-assessment of top skills.
“Passing always has been my strong suit,” he said. “One of our coaches on the youth national team (Brad Keller) said if you are the best passer out there they will find a way to get you on the court. That stuck with me. Serving and passing are the two most important aspects of volleyball, any coach will say.”
Browning also talked of his improved leadership skills this season.
“I definitely took a leadership position,” he said. “I’ve never been a captain before on a team. It taught me how to support and be a leader for everyone and to do it in a better and more efficient way.”
Browning also recently won his fourth junior-national championship at the club level. He got to share that four-peat with 949 club teammates Patrick Paragas, Kevin Kobrine and Diego Perez.
“The four of us have been playing high school and club together since we were 15,” he said. “All the hard work paid off. We got four in a row.”
Browning recalled wanting to compete at CdM while in middle school.
“In seventh grade I would look in the gym and see all the banners in there and dream about it,” he said. “I wanted to help put as many up there as possible. We were able to put four up there and that’s something time will never take away. Those banners are a bond for us. We can look up there and see that we made history. I like that.
“I always looked up to the guys on the varsity and thought about how good they were. It was extra motivation for me when I was younger. Even when I was a freshman and sophomore, I would look up and see all the guys ahead of us. I always strived to be like them.”
And now he is one of a long line of successful CdM boys’ volleyball players.
2018 VolleyballMag.com/TallSlim Tees Boys’ High School All-Americans
Name Ht. Pos. Year High School
Jonny Bowles 6-7 RS Sr. Chandler (Ariz.)
Brandon Browning 6-4 OH Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Max Cajuste 6-3 OH Sr. Mira Costa (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
Dayne Chalmers 6-4 OH Jr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Jaxon Drake 6-6 MB Sr. Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Mike Herlihy 6-6 MB Sr. Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.)
Kevin Kobrine 6-4 RS Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
James Martin 6-8 MB Sr. Cardinal Gibbons (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
Cole Pender 6-3 OH Sr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Jack Stevens 6-3 OH Sr. Libertyville (Ill.)
Gabe Vargas-Featherstone 6-6 RS Sr. La Jolla (San Diego, Calif.)
Ryan Wilcox 6-3 OH Sr. Punahou (Honolulu, Hawai’i)
Name Ht. Pos. Year High School
Blake Crisp 6-3 S Sr. Westlake (Thousand Oaks, Calif.)
Gautham Dasari 6-5 OH Jr. Monta Vista (Cupertino, Calif.)
Grant Guinasso 5-7 Libero Sr. Huntington Beach (Calif.)
Brandon Hicks 6-4 MB Sr. Corona del Mar (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Daniel Matheney 6-6 MB Sr. Bishop Montgomery (Torrance, Calif.)
Kyle Merchen 6-3 S Sr. Buchanan (Clovis, Calif.)
Ian Piet 6-1 OH Sr. Lincoln-Way East (Frankfort, Ill.)
Brett Sheward 6-2 S-RS Sr. Orange Lutheran (Orange, Calif.)
Ethan Talley 6-7 MB/RS Sr. Newport Harbor (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Canyon Tuman 6-7 MB Sr. North Allegheny (Wexford, Pa.)
Luke Turner 6-4 OH Soph. Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Brett Wildman 6-5 OH Sr. Cox (Virginia Beach, Va.)
Tim Baldwin (6-6, OH, Sr., Oak Park, Calif.), Tyler Bergeron (6-4, OH, Sr., McQuaid Jesuit, Rochester, N.Y.), Nikhil Bapat (6-3, OH, Jr., Monta Vista, Cupertino, Calif.), Mitch Bollinger 6-3, OH, Sr., Huntington Beach (Calif.), Sam Burgi (6-3, OH-RS, Sr., Laguna Beach, Calif.), Joe D’Attomo (6-7, MB, Sr., New Trier, Winnetka, Ill.), Luke Denton (6-6, RS, Sr., Desert Ridge, Mesa, Ariz.) Camden Gianni (6-4, OH, Sr., La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad, Calif.), Joe Karlous (6-0, S, Jr., Newport Harbor, Newport Beach, Calif.), Kevin Kauling (6-8, S, Jr., Neuqua Valley, Naperville, Ill.), Luke Krzmarzick (6-4, RS, Sr., South Torrance, Calif.), Luke Lentin (6-3, OH-S, Sr., La Jolla, (San Diego, Calif.), Jameson McKibbin (6-3, S, Sr., Punahou, Honolulu, Hawai’i), Parker Mikesch (6-0, Libero, Sr., Beavercreek, Ohio), Patrick Paragas (6-0, S, Sr., Corona del Mar, Newport Beach, Calif.), Sean Ryan (6-5, OH, Sr., Lyons Township, LaGrange, Ill.), Jacob Steele (6-8, OH, Sr., El Toro, Lake Forest, Calif.), Owen Wahlgren (6-8, MB, Sr., Downers Grove (Ill.) North), Conor Ward (6-3, S, Sr., Marquette, Milwaukee, Wis.)