Had it not been for Los Gatos, the Palo Alto girls volleyball team team would have compiled a perfect record during last year's SCVAL De Anza Division season.
The Vikings, however, lost twice to the Wildcats during a 12-2 campaign. The first loss ended a streak of 20 straight wins, dating to 2011, and was the first league setback for Paly since 2010.
Palo Alto began avenging those losses to Los Gatos with a 25-22, 25-14, 18-25, 12-25, 15-11 victory on Tuesday night to open division play.
Senior Becca Raffel had 19 kills and 20 digs for Paly, but Vikings' coach Dave Winn singled out senior Lauren Kerr for her season highs of 12 kills, .308 hitting and eight blocks -- including four solo.
"She was certainly a force to be reckoned with at the net," Winn wrote, "putting down some thunderous kills at key moments in the match."
Junior Jade Schoenberger added 10 kills and 19 digs while senior Keri Gee contributed 22 digs and four aces. Freshman setter Jessica Lee finished with 47 assists and 12 digs and junior Anna Dukovic added 16 digs.
Palo Alto (1-0, 11-3), which went 2-2 and finished fifth at the Harbor Invitational on Saturday, hit only .169 as a team against the Wildcats and will have to improve upon that when it hosts league favorite Homestead on Thursday at 6:45 p.m.
Across town, host Gunn (1-0, 3-4) opened its De Anza Division season with a 25-20, 25-22, 21-25, 25-19 win over Mountain View. Nicole Brigham led the Titans with 45 assists as she spread the ball around. Erica Johnston and Meghan Mahoney each had 12 kills, with Johnston wrapping up the win with a run of 10 straight aces in Game 4 to erase a 14-10 deficit.
"It was a great way to begin the (league) season and in our brand new gym," said Gunn first-year coach Craig Bankowski.
In nonleague action in Atherton, host Menlo School (12-4) defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral, 20-25, 26-24, 27-25, 25-21. Seniors Morgan Dressel and Maddie Huber each had 14 kills for the Knights, who were coming off a 5-0 finish and title at the Chris Chandler Invitational on Saturday. The Irish (9-2) came in ranked No. 42 in the nation by prepvolleyball.com and No. 6 in the state by MaxPreps.
In Los Altos Hills, host Pinewood (1-1, 5-2) got 20 kills from Mehra den Braven in a 25-20, 25-11, 25-23 win over Eastside Prep in West Bay Athletic League (Skyline Division) action.
The Menlo-Atherton at Burlingame match was not reported.
The Gunn and Palo Alto boys and girls split up their teams and held out some runners for the second SCVAL league-wide meet of the season on Tuesday at Crystal Springs.
Gunn finished second in both the overall girls' and boys' races while Palo Alto was 12th in both.
Gunn standout Sarah Robinson was held out of the girls' race in order to rest for Saturday's annual Stanford Invitational. She'll likely run against the state's best in the 5K seeded race at 12:30 p.m.
Gunn got its first win of the season in a 6-1 triumph over host Mountain View in SCVAL De Anza Division action. Lucy Oyer, Anjali Herekar and Quinn McGannon all won in straight sets at No. 2-4 singles to pace the Titans (1-2, 1-5). Lanae Chang and Maria Kosenko won No. 3 doubles, 6-4, 6-0 to clinch the victory.
In Sunnyvale, Sacred Heart Prep improved to 4-2 with a 4-3 nonleague win over host King's Academy at the Sunnyvale Tennis Center. The Gators managed just one win in singles, McKenzie Lynch's 6-3, 6-1 triumph at No. 4, but swept the doubles. The winning tandems were Lucy Ackley-Caroline Parsons, Maddie Jones-Allison Harman, plus Annabel Love-Lauren Trihy. All three teams combined to lose only five games.
In San Mateo, Menlo-Atherton continued to struggle in PAL Bay Division play following a 5-2 setback to host Aragon. The Bears (2-2, 2-4) were swept in singles.
In Palo Alto, the Vikings held on for a 4-3 victory over visiting Los Altos in SCVAL De Anza Division action to remain unbeaten at 2-0 (9-0 overall). Aashli Budhiraja won at No. 1 singles, 6-2, 6-4, but her teammates were swept in straight sets.
Paly's doubles saved the day as the No. 1 team of seniors Caroline Nore and Samantha Dewees posted a 6-1, 6-2 triumph, Hollie Kool and Kelsey Wang won by 6-3, 6-3, and Madeline Lee teamed with Sarah Tayeri for a 6-1, 6-3 triumph to help wrap up the victory.
Boys water polo
Palo Alto grabbed a 5-1 first-quarter lead and rolled to a 12-7 victory over host Los Gatos in SCVAL De Anza Division action. The Vikings improved to 2-1 in league (8-3 overall).
Girls water polo
Menlo School fell back in the PAL Ocean Division race following a 9-6 loss to host Mills. The Knights are 4-2 in league.
The Palo Alto at Los Gatos match was not reported.