Patton ahead of schedule

Placer grad makes instant impact at Orange Coast College
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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Jeff Patton had no idea he’d do this well in college volleyball this quickly. Now a freshman at Orange Coast College in Southern California, the middle blocker who led Placer High to the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinals last spring ranked among the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference’s top three in blocks (tied for second with 32), blocks per game (third, 1.19) and hitting percentage (.411) before Wednesday. “I didn’t even expect to be playing my first year,” Patton said. “It’s a shock to think that I’m among the top in those categories.” He’s not the only one who’s been pleasantly surprised. “Rarely do freshman middles do well because the college game’s a lot faster (than high school volleyball),” Orange Coast coach Travis Turner said. “It’s tough to adapt. He’s adapted a lot better than I thought he would. “My experience has been that very few freshmen come in and impact the position. Some do OK, but he’s done better than OK.” Patton said adjusting to the speed of the college game hasn’t been as easy as he’s made it look. “It took a while for me to adapt to the pace of the game,” he said. “But I like how fast the game (goes). It makes it a lot more fun.” “He works really hard and he’s extremely coachable,” Turner said. “That makes it easier.” With the 6-foot-7 Patton patrolling the net, OCC was 10-1 overall and 4-1 in the PCAC before Wednesday – even though he’d missed three matches due to a sprained ankle. “Without him, we’re in trouble,” Turner said. “He’s a big body in the middle.” As tall as Patton is, however, Turner would like to see him add some pounds to his frame. The coach joked that Patton probably weighs about 120 pounds and believes that building up his muscles will add some power to his shots. “The whole thing with him is strength,” Turner said. “He needs to work harder in the weight room and put on some weight. If he does that in the summer and the fall, he should be playing Division I volleyball.” Playing for an NCAA Division I school is Patton’s ultimate goal, and he said the success he’s had “gives me the drive to work harder.” “I’ve enjoyed all the new stuff I’ve learned,” he said, “but even with all I’ve learned, I’ve got a long ways to go.”