The Palo Alto High School volleyball team is preparing for its upcoming season with a new head coach as well as the loss of key seniors.
Jekara Wilson, the incoming head coach, has previously worked with the volleyball team as a varsity assistant, junior varsity head coach, and other coaching positions since 1998.
Along with the loss of last year’s head coach Daniele Desiderio, the team will be losing seven key seniors, including Anna Dukovic, Gillian Chryst and Jade Schoenberger.
These graduated seniors led last year’s team to a 19-12 overall record and a 4-8 record in the De Anza league. The season ended with a tough loss to Homestead High School in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs.
Wilson, who led last years JV team to a second place finish in league play, said she is excited to take over the team.
“Being the head coach of this program feels like an honor and a true privilege,” Wilson said. “I have worked so hard to get here and couldn’t be more excited about this season.”
Wilson played for Paly volleyball as a teen, and continued to play volleyball in college at West Valley. This internal promotion is the second attempt to fill the void that was left by former volleyball coach Dave Winn, who coached Paly volleyball for eight years and led the team to two state championships.
Another challenge the volleyball team will face this year is the lack of a home gym. Because of construction, Paly volleyball and other sports will have to practice and play home games at Gunn High School.
“Gunn has been wonderful in accommodating us, but there is a time issue when it comes to travel time daily to practice, especially during commuter traffic,” Wilson said.
Meanwhile, some players feel that the extra hour it takes to travel to and from Gunn takes away from time that could be spent on homework, and adds to the already stressful life of a student athlete.
“It is very annoying that we have to practice at Gunn,” junior Jessica Lee said. “Not only is practice two hours long but it also takes about a half hour to and from Gunn so that is another hour wasted by just traveling to Gunn when we could be working on homework or studying.”
Despite the loss of some pivotal seniors and the lack of a home gym, Wilson said she believes her current team can reestablish the vikings as one of the best team in the league.
“We have a very strong chance at winning leagues this season,” Wilson said. “Paly went eight consecutive years winning league from 2005 – 2012, I think we can restore that status this season. Overall, I am pleased with our team’s progress in practices alone and honestly believe that they can achieve anything they set their minds to.”
Wilson hopes to achieve this “can-do” attitude through the leadership of powerful senior captains Claire Krugler, Claire Dennis, and Clara Chiu. The team starts their season off at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 8th at Del Mar High School in San Jose.