Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

Palo Alto High School's sports news magazine

Viking Magazine

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Staff Gets Served

Viking Tries: Volleyball Will the staff be able to harness the skills they learn from Coach Chris to defeat the Paly girls volleyball team?

Paly offers a wide variety of sports, running from the fall season to the spring season —  one of those sports being volleyball. While the boys volleyball season takes place in the spring, Paly’s girls volleyball season is currently in full swing. They’re known to be one of the better public school teams in the area, ranking ninth of all-girls high school varsity volleyball teams in the Bay Area and currently being undefeated in their league. With two games a week and occasional tournaments on weekends, the Paly girls volleyball teams are in practice for two hours every day after school.

The staff here at Viking wanted to see how we would fare in a volleyball practice compared to the Paly Volleyball team. The participating staff includes Grace Gormley (swimmer), Tyler Frick (basketball), Tyler Martin (basketball), Aspen Stitt (field hockey & lacrosse), and Alena Lotterer (diving). Their volleyball experience goes as far as the volleyball unit in middle school P.E. classes. The girl’s volleyball team agreed to let Viking staff members participate in one of their practices. The coach and a varsity player will then rate the staff’s performance on a scale of one through ten. Their practice typically consists of a warm-up that mainly focuses on shoulder exercises, drill sets, and six on six scrimmages. We will be following a condensed version of their typical practice regime, and in true Paly competitive spirit, we will be facing the volleyball team in a round of six-on-six. Will the Viking staff be able to keep up?

Coach Chris Crader teaches the Viking staff the basics of volleyball.

The staff joined in on a Friday afternoon practice, and the coach began teaching the basics. After a quick shoulder warm, the coach went over the three basic volleyball motions, bump, set, and spike. Each Viking participant partnered up with a varsity player for passing drills to practice each motion.

“I felt very welcomed and comfortable. The volleyball players were really patient and helpful. It was all smiles and a very positive practice environment,” Aspen Stitt (‘24) said.

Starting with bumping, the Viking members seemed to quickly grasp their beginner volleyball skills.

“I thought it was pretty easy but when actually applying it to a game, you have to bump the serve or a spike and the technique really comes into play,” Tyler Martin said.

The staff then moved on to setting the ball.

“It’s kind of a delicate move you have to get, you have to have a nice touch, hand placement has to be right … It’s a part of the game that gets overlooked because it isn’t as flashy,” Tyler Frick said.

After quickly mastering that, they began practicing their serves. Despite being off to a rocky start with many failed serves, the staff quickly caught on after some additional coaching from varsity players.

“I got a lot better as I got more reps and coaching from the coach and the players,” Frick (‘24) said.

The staff then lined up to practice spiking the ball. The staff had to first bump the ball to another player, who would then return it with a set, after which they would spike it over the net. This proved to be the most challenging motion for the staff as it required timing, a strong and high jump, accuracy, and a technical downward hit to get a good spike.

“I felt that I was at a bit of a height disadvantage, which caused me to hit the ball into the net a good amount of the time,” Alena Lotterer (‘24) said.

After a quick pep talk with the coach and all the basic volleyball skills mastered, the team began a scrimmage against the Paly girls volleyball team. Despite being one person short of six, the staff began the scrimmage.

“Going into the scrimmage, I felt pretty well prepared. Over the course of the practice and drills, I definitely improved my skills and technique. The only thing that I was worried about was working together with the team because most of the drills that we did during practice were individual, so I was worried about the team aspect,” Tyler Martin (‘24) said.

The scrimmage began with Stitt’s first serve. Tossing the ball in the air, she hits it with a strong force but not enough upward direction. The ball goes straight into the net. The game is off to a rocky start for the Viking staff.

However, things picked up two serves later when they got their first point. Working together with their strong suit in bumping the ball, they were able to return the Paly volleyball team’s first two serves, scoring a point on their second serve.

However, if Viking was able to get a first pass, their communication to get the second or third pass off seemed to be lost.

“I just don’t think we were super focused after returning the serve. We were just happy if we didn’t lose the point at the serve, and then would just forget about the rest,” Alena Lotterer (‘24) said.

The Viking team also seemed to have a hard time setting and spiking. Instead of spiking the ball over the net, they would often send the ball over the net with a bump, making it much easier for the volleyball team to get a first pass. Despite losing the scrimmage to the girls volleyball team with a concluding score of 11-9, the staff still learned many valuable skills from this practice. The staff received an average score of 6.2 out of 10 on their performance from the coach and varsity players.

“We did a good job of taking Coach Chris’s advice and learning from it, and overall in the scrimmage, we worked well as a team but we definitely have some more work to do,” Grace Gormley (‘24) said.

“Given that we didn’t learn to dig or dive for the ball, I think we did pretty good responding to the fast serves and spikes at us. However, I think we definitely could’ve done better and there were lots of lost points that could have been won,” “Alena Lotterer (‘24) said.

From their time in one Paly girls volleyball practice, volleyball proved to be harder than the Viking thought it would be, and the Viking staff learned lots of great insights and lessons on the sport of volleyball.

They learned that there’s a high level of skill and technique that needs to be developed in order to have accuracy for passes, serves, and kills.

“I honestly thought we were going to do a lot better. It’s not just hitting a ball up in the air. We found certain aspects of the sport more challenging than expected, and I can see the technique that makes a good volleyball player. I have a new respect for volleyball players,” Lotterer (‘24) said.

Not only did the Viking staff have an eye-opening experience to the technique involved in volleyball, but they also discovered the importance of team chemistry.

“Communication and team bonding is super important because volleyball is a team sport. You can’t have six people on the court each trying to do their own thing,” senior varsity player Kylie Yen said. “When we’re more bonded and we’re communicating, we have a better understanding of each other and what another person might do.”

In the end, our Viking staff had a blast in their hour of being on the volleyball team. We would highly recommend the sport.

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About the Contributors
Jason Hu
Jason Hu, Photo Editor
I'm the photo editor for Viking this year. I love photography and look forward to attending Paly games this year.
Alena Lotterer
Alena Lotterer, Staff Writer
Hi! I'm Alena, and I'm a senior at Paly. I'm a springboard/platform diver, and I'm a coach for little kids in swim and dive. I'm also a member of Paly's Student Athletic Leadership Team!

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