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Volleyball recap: Vikings open league season with victory against rival Gunn

Jade Schoenberg (12) and Bella Graves (17) rise above the net to block a spike from a Gunn High School hitter in the crosstown matchup between Paly and the Titans Tuesday night. Photo by Matt Ersted.

The Palo Alto High School volleyball team (12-3-0) started off its league season with a straight set victory, defeating the rival Henry M. Gunn High School Titans (7-6-0) on Tuesday in the Paly gym.

Paly rushed out to a 4-1 lead in the first set behind aces by senior co-captains Shelby Knowles and Sophia Bono.  The Vikings dominated the first set, maintaining a lead throughout.

Gunn had five service errors in the first set, and the Vikings did the rest.  Paly won the set 25-14.

The Vikings opened the second set strong with four kills by junior Becca Raffel.

Gunn kept it close early, and took an 8-6 lead.  Paly stormed back behind a pair of kills by Knowles, and Gunn took a timeout after a 6-0 Viking run.

Gunn continued to fight back until three straight Knowles kills helped Paly put away the set, 25-16.

In the third set, the Vikings shot out to a 3-0 lead before the Titans put together a strong run.  The set remained close, and Paly took a 21-18 lead before Gunn took a timeout.

The Titans managed to claw their way back, partially thanks to several Paly errors.  A kill by Raffel put the Vikings up 24-22, and a Gunn error ended the match.

Paly head coach David Winn was pleased with the performance by his team.

“I’m really proud of them [Paly],” Winn said.  “To sweep them [Gunn] on our home court is definitely unexpected, but it’s a testament to how hard they have been working.”

Knowles was glad the Vikings got the win in what she knew would be a more competitive match than those against Gunn in recent years.  She sees plenty of room for improvement, though.

“I think our team overall needs to improve on playing hard through the end,” Knowles said. “We kept letting up a little bit, so we need to finish matches better.”

Junior Keri Gee played as a defensive specialist throughout the match for the Vikings.

“It feels awesome [to beat Gunn],” Gee said. “We lost a lot of people [from] last year, and I’m glad we put up the fight that we did.”

Winn admits that there are areas for improvement, but is happy with the result.

“A win to start league play is a great job by them [the team].” Winn said.

The Vikings’ next home game will be at 6:45 p.m. on Thursday in the Paly gym against the Homestead High School Mustangs.

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