Volleyball set to start 2012 season
by Neal Biswas and Sam Kelley
Published September 4, 2012
Last year the Vikings finished with a remarkable 36-3 record on the way to a second consecutive Division I State Championship title. The Vikings defeated Marymount High School in an electrifying five-set match last fall in Los Angeles. The season was also capped off with the honor of being ranked No.1 in the nation on MaxPreps.com, a distinguished high school athletics site.
Eight valuable seniors graduated last year, each of whom helped the team capture the state title. The former team captains, Kimmy Whitson, Maddie Kuppe and Melanie Wade, all moved on to play collegiate division I volleyball: Whitson at University of Pacific, Kuppe at University of Connecticut and Wade at University of Washington.
Coach Dave Winn does not feel it is appropriate to compare this year’s team to the those of previous years.
“Paly just graduated its best senior volleyball class in history,” Winn said. “Over the past two years, our record was 77-4, including two state titles, two norcal [North California] titles, two league titles and a host of other tournament victories and individual accolades. It would be foolish of me to try to compare this year’s team to what we’ve done in the past. Each year is unique.”
When asked about the pressure of replicating the success of past seasons, Winn responded, “As I tell my team, pressure is what you feel when you are not prepared. So I will do my best to make sure I give our team the necessary preparation so that we are ready to compete every day.”
Returning juniors and sophomores, as well as several underclassmen, will have to step up to fill those gaps. Captains Shelby Knowles and Sophia Bono are the only two seniors on the squad this season. With only two seniors, leadership contributions may have to come from elsewhere.
“I have constantly stressed that every player can provide leadership in their own unique way, whether or not they are a starter or captain,” Winn said.
Winn also emphasized the importance of effort and commitment from his team, rather than entirely playing for results.
“I want our girls to focus on improving every day, giving 100 percent commitment to focus and fun, and to enjoy the journey,” Winn said. “In a world where so much emphasis is placed on results, I want to make sure we [the team] stay grounded in the process of making ourselves better each day… as volleyball players and as young women.”
The Vikings begin their season at 6:30 p.m., in the Palo Alto High School main gym, on Tuesday, Sept. 4, when they host the Notre Dame High School Tigers.
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