Season preview: Girls’ volleyball adjusts to small roster and new coach

September 9, 2023 — by Natalie Chua and Sarah Zhou
Photo by Angela Tan
The team huddles during a time out in a game against Christopher High School on Sept. 5.
The addition of multiple newer players and the absence of key veterans have made the start of the season challenging.

Head Coach: Yakgna Arumugam 

Last year’s record: 5-7

Recap: The team qualified for CCS for the first time since 2019. In the playoffs, the Falcons won 3-2 against El Camino but ended their season with a 3-0 loss to Soquel.

Key Matchups: Lynbrook and Wilcox 

Star Players: Freshman middle blocker Aanya Hotha and junior setter Narmeen Khericha

Key losses to graduation: Setter Joanna Song and libero Maaheen Khericha

League: El Camino


With the loss of seven seniors to graduation, the girls’ volleyball team has is adjusting to a smaller roster of 11 players and a new head coach, Yakgna Arumugam, a parent who previously coached the JV girls’ volleyball team. Thomas Ching, last year’s varsity coach, is coaching the JV team. 

The Falcons’ preseason showed promise — they started off with four home games, resulting in three wins and a loss. Led by freshman middle blocker Aanya Hotha’s strong offense, the team won 3-1 against Christopher on Sept. 6, beat Prospect 3-1 on Aug. 31, lost 3-1 to Westmont on Aug. 29 and won 3-0 against Del Mar on Aug. 24.

The team also saw success at the Spikefest tournament held on Aug. 26 at Los Altos and Wilcox, where they received first place in the Pearl division. After a 2-1 loss against Presentation and a 3-0 loss to both Christopher and St. Ignatius College Preparatory, the Falcons beat both Fremont and Milpitas 2-0. 

Even with these early wins, the team is still struggling to adapt to a smaller roster, which mostly consists of freshmen and former JV players compared to other teams in the league that generally have 12 to 15 players. In addition, senior captain and outside hitter Anjali Aarkoti injured her toe during the game against Prospect, further reducing the number of players available.

Another challenge for players this year will be adjusting Arumugam’s coaching style, which some players said was not what they are used to. 

“He has good intentions but often strays away from what’s generally done in volleyball [drills] which can be confusing,” junior setter Narmeen Khericha said. “We have a lot of new talent and skill, though, so combined with the different coaching style, the season won’t be boring.”

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