A lot of work comes along with being the director of the Tool City Volleyball Club.

But one of the toughest yearly chores for Denny Patton, who founded the club 12 years ago, is selecting the roster for his 14 Club team. Patton’s roster is limited to just eight players, meaning, unfortunately, not every deserving player can be chosen.

In 2005, Adam Roche was one of those players who failed to make the cut.

“Tells you how much I know about talent,” Patton said.

Patton’s comment came just days after Roche, a recent Cochranton graduate, was named the Most Valuable Player at the 2009 USA Volleyball Boys Junior Olympic Championships at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. Roche had what coaches and spectators are calling a dominant performance in the Tool City Volleyball Club 18’s Orange team’s run to the national title.

“Adam really just put on an unbelievable performance all week,” Tool City coach Justin Johnson said. “I didn’t keep stats or anything, but he probably had a .400 to .500 hitting percentage. Every time he hit, it was a kill. He just mixed up his hits really well. He hit around people; hit both ways. And his blocking was phenomenal.

“He was just dominant.”

Patton also took notice.

“He was so dominating,” he said. “Whenever a big play needed to be made, he was making it.”

The only person who needed convincing on just how great of a performance Roche had was the 6-foot-7 all-state middle hitter himself.

“I honestly thought the MVP should go to Nick (Bancroft),” said Roche, who, like Tool City teammates Kyle Beatty of Saegertown and Bancroft of Maplewood, will play at St. Francis University this winter. “If it wasn’t for his sets, no way could I have hit the ball like I did. His sets were money all the time.”

But as far as dominating the game?

“(Roche) dominated,” Johnson said. “People were hitting the ball down the line and across court to avoid him. He just had an outstanding tournament.”

Tool City, which also consisted of Meadville’s Adam Barba, Maplewood’s Jackson Ferringer, McDowell’s Brenton Mineo, Cochranton’s Ethan Oertly and Conneaut Valley’s Jeff Conley, won the national championship Saturday with a 28-30, 25-19, 15-12 win over Molten 18-Black from Gilbert, Ariz. The locals outlasted 52 other teams hailing from places like Honolulu, Los Angeles, Puerto Rico, Miami, Virginia Beach and Pittsburgh.

Tool City lost just two matches in its quest for the national championship, both of which came during pool play. Tool City finished either first or second in each of its three pools, eventually earning itself a spot in the gold medal playoff bracket where the team went unbeaten with wins over Santa Monica Beach Club 18-Silver, United 18-Blue (Pittsburgh) and Molten 18-Black to capture the national title.

Barba, Bancroft, Beatty and Roche were all named to the all-tournament team.

The title was the first for Tool City in any age group. The 18s finished second in 2003 and 2004. This year’s 18 Club team finished fifth last year in the 17 Club division.



Lisa Byers can be reached at 724-6370, ext. 277 or by e-mail at lbyers@meadvilletribune.com.

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