Season Preview: Boys’ volleyball looks to win El Camino Division

Amy Yu and Sophia Krugler

Senior captain and outside hitter Tyler Yen passes the ball during the boys’ volleyball practice in the small gym at Palo Alto High School. Yen says he is confident that his team will win the El Camino Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League this season. “We probably need to work on defense a little more, and blocking,” Yen said. “I think our offense is the best in the league.” Photo: Amy Yu

Coming off a season as co-leaders of its division, the Palo Alto High School boys’ volleyball team will play its first game of the season Thursday.

The team heads into season without star athlete and captain outside hitter Raymon Chen, who graduated last year. However, Varsity Coach Ed Yeh says he believes that the development in the off-season is promising to fill Chen’s spot. 

“He gave us 30-40 kills a match,” Yeh said. “So he’s gonna be hard to replace. But we also have a lot of returning players who got better. Most of the boys on varsity played a season of club [volleyball], so their skills are bigger, stronger, more talented.” 

According to senior captain Tyler Yen, senior Dejo Alnajjar has stepped up to fill Chen’s spot as outside hitter. 

“He’s doing really well right now,” Yen said. “He’s swinging really well. I think we’ll be fine without Raymon.”

According to Yeh, Paly tied for first with two other schools in the El Camino Division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League last year. Yeh said that he is optimistic that the team will place first in the division again this year.

“Some of the other schools that were close to us [in the El Camino league] — one’s not running a program this year and one went up to De Anza — so there’s no reason why we can’t take the lead this season,” Yeh said.

Yeh has been the head coach for the boys’ varsity team since the beginning of the program in 2018. The junior varsity team, which was added in 2019, will return for it’s second season and accommodate players of all skill levels.

“Originally, we only had one program — it was only varsity,” Yeh said.  “So for the players that didn’t come in with a lot of experience, it was a lot of development, a lot of teaching. This year, I picked up another coach that I had worked with in club before, to coach the [JV] program.”

The Vikings will face Menlo-Atherton High School in a preseason game at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at home.