Elizabeth Anderson and her sister, Caroline, provided the Gunn girls' water polo team with a solid one-two punch last season. The result was a SCVAL De Anza Division title, playoff crown and a berth in the Central Coast Section semifinals.
Elizabeth graduated and now is playing at Santa Clara University, leaving Caroline to take over the scoring load this season. It's a task the junior lefty is very capable of handling.
After scoring 19 goals in four matches last weekend at the Acalanes North Coast Invitational, Anderson poured in five goals to help the Titans (1-0, 5-2) open the De Anza Division season with a 10-3 triumph over host Los Altos on Tuesday.
"It was a nice way to open the league season," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "It was the first time, in a long time, that we've beaten Los Altos at Los Altos during the league season. They're always one of the top teams in the league, and it's nice to beat them -- though, we know we still need to get better every day."
Despite returning only three players off last season's 21-7 squad that reached the Central Coast Section Division I semifinals before losing to eventual champ Leland, the Titans appear ready to defend their SCVAL title.
Gunn beat Los Altos last season at home to clinch the division crown, then topped the Eagles (also at Gunn) to win the playoff title. On Saturday, Gunn defeated Los Altos, 10-2, at the Acalanes tournament as a tuneup for Tuesday's showdown.
"This game was a grind for us," said Hernandez, who pointed out a 1-1 deadlock after one period and only a 4-1 lead at halftime. "We didn't convert on a lot of our shots in the first period, but the girls kept at it, and eventually we started shooting better. All the while, we played better and better defense."
Maggie Sockness added two goals for Gunn while Laura Hendricks, Bianca Batista and returnee Lauren Lesyna all scored once.
The Menlo-Atherton girls got three top-10 finishes and ran off with the title in Half Moon Bay at the first of three Peninsula Athletic League meets this season.
Junior Taylor Fortnam led the Bears with a second-place finish of 15:27 while M-A freshmen Annalisa Crowe (ninth in 15:59) and Maddie Worden (10th in 16:00) also contributed big time as the Bears (54 points) ran past Half Moon Bay (83) and Carlmont (96).
Junior Annika Roise (16th in 16:23) and freshman Katie Beebe (17th in 16:33) rounded out M-A's scoring. Fortnam was ninth in the Junior Girls' race at Saturday's Early Bird Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas.
In the boys' meet, Menlo-Atherton finished fourth. Zach Plante led the Bears by clocking 12:47 for 11th place. John Lovegren was 13th in 12:52 for M-A, which was missing standout George Baier (sprained ankle).
With Alice Li, Stephanie Zhang and Apple XU all winning in singles, Gunn opened its SCVAL El Camino Division season with a 6-1 victory over visiting Fremont at Cubberley Community Center on Tuesday. The Titans improved to 3-3 overall.
In other openers, host Palo Alto dropped a 6-1 decision to Saratoga in SCVAL De Anza Division action. Junior Felicia Wang produced Paly's only point, at No. 2 single, and Menlo-Atherton blanked host San Mateo, 7-0, to open the PAL Bay Division campaign. Erin LaPorte won at No. 1 singles for the Bears, 2-6, 6-0, 10-6.
Palo Alto's young team continued to make improvement as junior Becca Raffel had 12 kills to help the Vikings defeat host Castilleja, 25-16, 25-20, 25-11, in girls' nonleague volleyball action on Tuesday.
The visiting Vikings (6-2) also got 10 kills and eight digs from senior Shelby Knowles and 30 assists from fellow co-captain and senior Sophia Bono. Junior Bella Graves had six kills and junior Keri Gee provided 18 digs.
Castilleja (4-3) was led by senior Lucy Tashman's 15 kills and 21 digs. Sophomore Jennifer DiSanto added 17 digs and senior Hannah Hsieh provided 18 assists. Junior Nessica Norum finished with 15 digs for the Gators.
In San Mateo, senior Sonia Abuel-Saud produced 17 kills and 10 digs as Sacred Heart Prep rolled to a 25-15, 25-22, 25-17 nonleague triumph over San Mateo.
The Gators (8-1) also got six kills and three aces from senior Payton Smith and seven kills each from senior Ellie Shannon and sophomore Victoria Garrick. Senior Helen Gannon added 12 digs and sophomore setter Natalie Marshall finished with 22 assists.
The Gators will host Los Altos on Thursday (6:15 p.m.) in nonleague action before heading into the Harbor Invitational in Santa Cruz on Saturday.
In Portola Valley, junior Marine Hall-Poirier had 14 kills, three aces and hit .370 to pace Priory to a 25-13, 25-18, 25-15 nonleague victory over visiting Mills on Tuesday night. Briana Willhite added nine kills and hit .500 for the Panthers, who won the Laguna Blanca tournament in Santa Barbara on Saturday. Hall Poirier was named MVP of the tourney and Willhite was named to the all-tournament team.
In Atherton, host Menlo-Atherton ran up against a tough St. Francis squad and dropped a 23-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-20 nonleague decision. The Bears dropped to 0-2 heading into Thursday's home match against Menlo School.
Boys' water polo
Palo Alto opened its SCVAL De Anza Division season with an 11-4 victory over visiting Homestead on Tuesday night, but Gunn dropped a 13-10 division-opening match to host Los Altos.
Bret Pinsker paced Paly with five goals while Quinn Rockwell added three and Andrew Cho had two. Jake Weinstein had five saves in goals while Brent Schroeder allowed no goals for the Vikings, who gave first-year coach Brandon Johnson his first triumph.
In nonleague action, Morgan Olson Fabbro scored seven goals during a 14-12 overtime loss to visiting Bellarmine on Tuesday. Zach Deal and Harrison Holland-McCowan each added a pair of goals for the Bears (3-2).