After winning their first state championship last year, a strong group of returning players hope to get back to their winning ways. Staff photo by Sid Chari.
By Sid Chari and Eric Chang
The reigning Division IV state champions are looking to defend their title this season after graduating a couple prominent seniors Jessica Houghton, Mia Vandermeer, and Dea Dressel.
The team is led by senior captains Kristin Sellers, who is committed to Brown University, and Ashley Dreyer. The team is a powerhouse as a whole, but some notable individual players include juniors Sianna Houghton and Selina Xu. Houghton, who is committed to the University of Washington, has been an important factor for the lady knights in the past two years, contributing as a solid libero and outside hitter. “Even though we lost Jessica this year it’s really nice to have Sianna because it’s almost like a replacement,” Sellers said. Xu, a member of team USA and one of the top setters in the country has also played a significant part in this champion team. The strong, veteran presence should be a huge help throughout the season when the big games come down the line. “Some of our most highly anticipated games the season will be against Sacred Heart Prep and Notre Dame,” senior Caroline Bradley said.
To defend their championship title, the team grinded in the offseason. “This year the team trained in the Menlo gym more than 50 times; this training is definitely paying off in practices and in games” Bradley said. While a lot of this dedication arises from the team itself, second-year-coach Marco Paglialunga is also a major factor in pushing the players to their maximum potential. “His expectations are very high for us this season and we are motivated by his intensity,” Sellers said. “Hopefully our hard work will pay off and we’ll have another great season and make it back to states.”