The Los Altos varsity girls volleyball team last year may have been the best team in the past thirty years with their extensive postseason run posting them as second place in Nor-Cals, setting up quite the act to follow this year. As the new season dawns, the team faces the challenge of filling in the gaps that last year’s lady eagles left behind when they graduated.
“We lost four starting seniors so we have a new set of starters,” senior co-captain Joyce Christiansen-Salameh said. “We need to integrate the new players into our playing style.”
Due to the new faces on the team, varsity Head Coach Peter Kim is emphasizing the importance of chemistry within the team.
“Last year the team really played as one and it showed—we got second,“ Kim said. “As a team this year, we need to work on playing as a team and being cohesive.”
Despite the hole left by the seniors, Los Altos has managed to inspire confidence with three commanding pre-season victories. The squad has won their first two games by large margins, led by senior co-captain Carmen Annevelink, who is averaging 5.1 kills per set. The team is off to a 10-3 start and a tournament championship with a semifinal win against rival Mountain View and a vicotry over Saint Francis in the finals.
“It was awesome to beat Mountain View and Saint Francis especially by how much we beat them,” Carmen said. “It’s always nice to beat the local schools, public and private, and to win our own tournament was just icing on the cake.”
The home opener had Los Altos facing off against Burlingame, and a sense of déjà vu settled in the gym as the lady eagles won in straight sets without giving up the lead once, their success reminiscent of last year.
“Our serve returns and defense were really good… and that meant we could get aggressive swings at serve returns,” Carmen said. “We also weren’t scrambling and that translated into running a fast paced offense.”
However as the season continues, the level of competition rises. On September 17, the lady eagles took on Valley Christian, their first game against a private school team. Los Altos went five sets with Valley Christian, eventually clinching a victory in the fifth, 15-6.
“I think the fact that we went five games with [Valley Christian] and beat them in the fifth set was a true test of our teamwork and we did well,” Kim said.
“So [against Valley Christian] what we really focused on was like staying loose and ready and aggressive,” Carmen said. “just going for every ball.”
The next home game is today, Tuesday, September 30, against Monta Vista.