Papaleo takes over girls' volleyball program

Laguna Beach High Principal Joanne Culverhouse announced Tuesday the hiring of Raúl Papaleo as the school's new head coach of the girls' varsity volleyball team.

Papaleo, 41, a native of Puerto Rico, replaces Lance Stewart, who resigned as girls' head coach in December.

"I'm really excited and happy to be the head coach at Laguna Beach," Papaleo said. "I know the girls' program here has a lot of history, and I'm excited to come in and continue that tradition. I'm looking forward to a good year."

Papaleo has more than 20 years of volleyball experience. He played collegiate men's volleyball at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne in Fort Wayne, Ind., where he was part of an NCAA Final Four team and achieved All-American status as an outside hitter. He first coached at the prep level in 1994 as a varsity head coach at Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne, and later coached at three different high schools in Puerto Rico. He also coached a men's collegiate team in Puerto Rico (2000-01).

Papaleo competed on the Puerto Rico National Team and was a member of the first Puerto Rican beach volleyball team to compete at the Olympic Games. He is a 2003 Pan American Games bronze medalist and a two-time North Central American and Caribbean Confederation (NORCECA) gold medalist (2003, 2008). He played several years on the Assn. of Volleyball Professionals Tour.

Papaleo currently coaches at Tstreet Volleyball Club in Irvine.

"Coach Papaleo is going to be a great addition to our staff," Laguna Athletic Director Mike Churchill said. "He will bring the experience and drive that will allow us to continue to enjoy the success that we have had. We hope that it will be a long relationship."

Papaleo will lead the Breakers for the first time next fall.

"I'm already busy, putting our schedule together and getting things ready for the season," he said. "We'll have a young team, but I know the girls in this program are great athletes. I can't wait for things to get started."

Twitter: @MikeSciacca

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