The beginning of the 2015 high school volleyball season will mark Dave Winn's second campaign as head coach at Mountain View. It also marks the fifth anniversary of Winn's greatest coaching achievement, guiding the Palo Alto girls to the 2010 CIF Division I state championship.
The Vikings compiled a remarkable 41-1 record that season, topped by a shocking victory over heavily favored Long Beach Poly in the state finals at San Jose State. Palo Alto came back in 2011 and successfully defended its state crown with a 36-3 mark.
"Hard to believe it's been five years already," Winn said. "I think about both of those teams constantly. I've watched the replays of both fifth sets a lot. The comebacks in both were extraordinary and showed how much heart our players had in those matches.
"What I remember most about our 2010 team is that we had no expectations. We knew we'd be good, but each step we took further in the playoffs was sweeter than the next. I do remember watching Long Beach Poly warming up and thinking 'wow, those girls can hammer the ball.' So I huddled my team around me so no one was watching them warm up anymore.
"Everyone that went in that game made a great contribution. I also remember those last two serves from Maddie Kuppe and how calm she was as she nailed that last ace for the title. It's burned into my memory forever."
Two starters from that 2010 team, Megan Coleman and Trina Ohms, graduated from college last spring. Most of the players who started on both championship teams, however, are finishing up their collegiate careers this fall.
Kimmy Whitson is a senior setter at Pacific. She helped the Tigers open their season last weekend with a 2-1 mark at the NIU Invitational in DeKalb, Ill. Whitson had 119 assists, 22 kills and 15 digs while being named to the all-tournament team.
She had 31 assists, five kills and four digs in a 3-0 win over South Dakota State to open the tournament. In a second-round 3-2 loss to Iowa, Whitson finished with 44 assists, five blocks and nine kills. Later on Saturday, Whitson returned with eight kills, 44 assists, three aces, six digs and four blocks in a 3-1 victory over host Northern Illinois.
Melanie Wade is now a senior at Washington and helped the No. 10-ranked Huskies open the season 3-0 at the Northwest Challenge this past weekend. She had four kills and three block assists in a sweep of Gonzaga to open the tourney, added four kills and four block assists in a 3-0 sweep of Boise State and finished off the weekend with six kills and eight block assists to help sweep Portland State.
The 6-foot-4 Wade was honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team last season. She's one of 12 letterwinners returning from a 31-3 squad in 2014.
Caroline Martin is a senior at Connecticut College and will open her final season on Sept. 8 against visiting Mitchell. As a junior last season, the outside hitter was honored on the All-New England Small College Athletic Conference Volleyball Second Team for the third consecutive year. She registered a team-best 270 digs to go with 154 kills for the Camels, who made their 10th consecutive appearance in the NESCAC Championship Tournament.
Shelby Knowles, who was a sophomore on Paly's 2010 team, is now a junior outside hitter at Wheaton College in Elmhurst, Ill. She'll open her season on Friday against visiting Hendrix College. Knowles was a second team all-league performer last season while leading the Thunder in kills (424) and services aces (47) while ranking No. 2 in digs with 423.
Maddie Kuppe started her college career at UConn, but transferred to Division III Tufts. Last season she helped the Jumbos finish 9-1 in league and 22-9 overall while recording 234 kills (No. 2 on team) and 211 digs (No. 4 on team). Kuppe will begin her senior season on Sept. 9 against visiting Springfield.
This season also marks the five-year anniversary of Sacred Heart Prep's appearance in the 2010 CIF Division IV state finals, a loss to highly ranked La Jolla Country Day. Two members of that team -- Sarah Daschbach and Elle Shannon -- will help Princeton open its season on Friday at the G.W. Tournament. Daschbach is a senior and Shannon a junior. Also on the team are sophomores Maddie Huber from Menlo School and Pauli King from Menlo-Atherton.