Volleyball opener against Gunn to kick off sports in Peery Family Center

    Junior outside hitter and defensive specialist Mallory Kuppe sets the ball during a team warm-up in Palo Alto High School’s Peery Family Center. The Viking’s first match in the new gym will be on Thursday. Photo: Ellie Krugler

    The Palo Alto High School volleyball team (0-1, 0-0) will compete against Gunn High School in the first ever match in the newly constructed Peery Family Center at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Paly.

    According to Athletic Director Therren Wilburn, the match was planned with Gunn so anyone in the community can attend and enjoy the introduction of the new gym.

    “This is the first contest that’s in the new Peery Center,” Wilburn said. “We wanted to make it a community game, so that’s why we reached out to Gunn.”

    Varsity head coach Daniele Desiderio mentioned how hard the players are working to prepare for the upcoming season. The team looks forward to the match against Gunn and has been taking full advantage of the new gym, according to Desiderio.

    “It’s a big difference because we have the three courts all available for us,” Desiderio said. “We have more coaches helping, so everything is an upgrade from the previous experience.”

    The varsity team captains, senior outside hitter Chelsea Fan and senior libero Susanna Limb, agree that the gym circumstances are a lot more favorable than in past seasons when the team drove to Gunn High School for practices every day. With past home games being off-campus as well, it was difficult to have the home-court advantage.

    “It’s definitely really nice,” Fan said. “A lot more convenient, especially with practice time. The commute to Gunn was pretty long because there was a lot of traffic coming in and out.”

    Wilburn said the proximity of the gym is expected to increase attendance among Paly families.

    The girls’ freshman team plays at 4 p.m., followed by junior varsity at 5:30 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m. According to Paly Sports Boosters President Melissa Anderson, Paly students wearing Paly gear can enter the volleyball game for free.

    Although Thursday’s match won’t be an official league game, the Peery Family Center’s first use should play a role in attracting more visitors to the stands.

    “I think that once the community […] sees the work that’s going into the gym,” Wilburn said, “from the murals to the hall of fame to the banner placement, that it’s gonna definitely be an inviting place that students are definitely gonna want to come to.”

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