The Menlo School girls' volleyball team handed West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) champion Sacred Heart Prep its only league loss with a 3-1 victory Thursday at home. The Knights finished second in the division with an 8-2 league mark (23-6 overall) after posting a 25-22, 25-12, 21-25, 25-18 victory.
"I'm so proud of the effort we gave tonight," Menlo first-year coach Atlee Hubbard said. "The team really wanted the win and it showed."
For the second consecutive match, Menlo senior Natalie Roy had a season high, this time topping Tuesday's mark by one with 21 kills. She also added 15 digs. Sophomore Maddie Huber contributed 15 kills, nine digs and a pair of aces.
Menlo got 40 assists, 11 digs and three kills from freshman Elisa Merten. A pair of sophomores boosted Menlo's defense -- Morgan Dressel had four blocks and libero Melissa Cairo posted 21 digs and delivered two aces.
Sacred Heart Prep, which reached the CIF Division IV state finals last season, fell to 9-1 in league (21-6 overall) after losing for the first time in eight matches. The Gators were led by senior Sarah Daschbach and junior Elle Shannon with 12 kills each.
Menlo will close out the regular season with a home nonleague match against Menlo-Atherton on Friday at 5:45 p.m.
While Menlo was pulling the upset of the WBAL season, Palo Alto, Menlo-Atherton and Priory were finishing off their title-winning regular seasons.
Paly, which won its sixth straight SCVAL De Anza Division title on Tuesday, finished off a 12-0 season with a 25-13, 25-11, 23-25, 25-17 victory over host Gunn (1-11, 14-19). The Vikings improved to 30-3 overall as senior Melanie Wade produced 22 kills, 14 digs and three aces. Senior Maddie Kuppe added 22 kills and eight digs while fellow senior Kimmy Whitson contributed 41 assists, four kills and six digs.
Palo Alto most likely will receive the No. 1 seed for the CCS Division I playoffs and a first-round bye into next Thursday's second round. Paly is the defending champion.
Menlo-Atherton, which lost to Palo Alto in the 2010 CCS Division I title match, also finished off a perfect league season as the Bears (14-0, 26-5) cruised to a 25-18, 25-10, 25-11 PAL Bay Division victory over host Woodside on Thursday.
The Bears clinched their the league title on Tuesday, their first since tying with Burlingame in 2001 -- thus giving coach Jen Wilson her first league crown.
Junior Ali Spindt had seven kills and 11 assists for M-! while sophomore Pauli King provided five kills, four digs and two aces. Senior Seini Moimoi had nine kills and two blocks.
Priory wrapped up no worse than a tie for the WBAL (Skyline Division) title with a 25-19, 25-13, 25-9 sweep of visiting Pinewood to improve to 10-1 in league (22-4 overall). Priory must beat host King's Academy on Friday to earn the outright title. Marine Hall-Piorier led Priory with 18 kills while Alyssa Guttman-Green had 25 assists and Brianna Willhite added nine kills.
Priory will begin play in the CCS Division V playoffs next Thursday.
The Menlo-Atherton boys finished second and the girls took fifth at the Peninsula Athletic League Championships on Thursday at Crystal Springs in Belmont.
In the boys' race over the hilly 2.95-mile layout, M-A scored 64 points while heavily favored Carlmont ran off with the title with 40 points.
The Bears were led by seniors Michael Hester and Jack Beckwith. Hester clocked 15:27 for fourth and Beckwith ran 15:34 for sixth. Junior George Baier was 15th in 15:50, junior John Lovegren was19th in 16:13 and senior Jordan Scandlyn finished 20th in 16:17 to round out the Bears' scoring.
In the girls' race, Menlo-Atherton was led by Taylor Fortnam's ninth-place finish of 19:24.
Boys' water polo
Palo Alto and Gunn both advanced to the semifinals of the SCVAL De Anza Division Tournament with solid victories on Thursday at Gunn High.
Palo Alto not only advanced to the semifinals but qualified for the CCS playoffs, as well, with a 16-8 dunking of Homestead. The No. 2-seeded Vikings (15-10) will take on No. 3 Mountain View at Gunn on Friday at 4:50 p.m., with the winner advancing to Saturday's title match against the Gunn-Los Altos winner.
Sophomores Bret Pinsker (5), Sam Kelley (4) and Will Conner (3) combined for 12 goals for the Vikings (15-10), who began subbing in the first quarter. Peter Rockhold sparked the defense with three steals in less than a full quarter.
It was a good news-bad news kind of day for No. 4 seed Gunn, which also qualified for CCS with a 9-6 victory over No. 5 Monta Vista but also earned a semifinal date with unbeaten and top-seeded Los Altos on Friday at 6:10 p.m. The Titans lost twice to Los Altos during the regular season.
Against Monta Vista, Gunn got a balanced scoring effort of two goals each from Gavin Kerr, Ari Wayne, Coby Wayne and Tyler Wilson with Michael Znidarsic adding the other goal.
At the West Catholic Athletic League playoffs at Sacred Heart Prep, the No. 2-seeded Gators four goals from Michael Holloway and rallied from a 4-2 halftime deficit to beat St. Francis, 9-7, in the semifinals.
Sacred Heart Prep (15-10) also got three goals from Harrison Enright and 16 goalie saves from Will Runkel while advancing to Saturday's championship match against No. 1 seed Bellarmine in the Gators' pool at 7 p.m. The Bells dunked Serra, 15-9.
Girls' water polo
Palo Alto opened the SCVAL De Anza Division Tournament with a big 15-6 victory over No. 6 Wilcox on Thursday at Monta Vista High in Cupertino. The third-seeded Vikings (13-9) were led by senior co-captain Skylar Dorosin's six goals while sophomore Emma Wolfe added three. Seniors Hannah Park and co-captain Shannon Scheel each added two goals with junior Martine LeClerc contributed one goal and freshman Tess van Hulsen score her first varsity goal.
Palo Alto advances to Friday's semifinals and will play No. 2 seed Los Altos at 4:15 p.m. in the Monta Vista pool. That winner will move on to Saturday's championship match. Top-seeded Gunn had an opening bye and will play No. 4 Los Gatos, a 13-4 winner over No. 5 Homestead, on Friday at 5:25 p.m.
In the WCAL playoffs at Sacred Heart Prep, the top-seeded Gators advanced to the finals with a 14-8 dunking of No. 4 St. Ignatius on Thursday. Sacred Heart (21-4) will play No. 2 St. Francis, a 15-6 winner over No. 3 Mitty, in Saturday's title game at SHP at 5:45 p.m.
Senior Erin Sheridan led the scoring parade with three goals while four others tallied two goals each for the four-time defending Central Coast Section Division II champs.
In a CCS play-in match, host Menlo girls' lost a close match against PAL Ocean Division champ Mercy-Burlingame, 9-7, on Thursday. Mercy advances as an at-large qualifier to the first round of the postseason.
Menlo wrapped up its season with a 3-16 mark. Seniors Isabelle Stepien and Ilana Crankshaw provided strong leadership for a young Knights team. Junior Kaelen Dunn had three goals against Mercy.
"I'm so proud of the team and their efforts this year," coach Fana Fuqua said. "We are so thankful for the support of everyone this season and look forward to the next season."