While the SCVAL De Anza Division won't be decided, the outcome of Thursday's showdown between rivals Palo Alto and Gunn should go a long way in deciding this season's regular-season champion in boys' water polo.
The matchup not only brings together the top two teams in the division, but once again matches brothers Brandon and Matt Johnson -- the head coaches at Paly and Gunn, respectively.
Matt is 1-0 against his brother this season, a victory that opened the division season and catapulted the Titans into first place. Gunn has remained there ever since and is 6-0 in league (9-6 overall) heading into the showdown following a 16-10 dunking of host Monta Vista on Tuesday.
Coby Wayne led Gunn with seven goals while brother Ari added four. Christian Znidarsic finished with three goals as the Titans continued one of their finest seasons since Matt was a standout goalie eight years ago for Gunn.
Palo Alto (5-1, 15-3), meanwhile, kept pace with a 9-5 victory over visiting Los Altos. Sam Kelley led the Vikings with three goals with fellow senior Will Mendenhall adding two.
A Paly win over host Gunn on Thursday (6:45 p.m.) will throw the race into a two-way tie while a win by the Titans will give them a two-game lead with five matches remaining.
In girls' water polo Tuesday, Gunn maintained its hold on first place with a dominating 21-1 dunking of host Lynbrook. Caroline Anderson, who scored 15 goals in two SCVAL De Anza Division wins last week, added six goals to her season total as the Titans improved to 6-0 (10-4). Senior Rachel Wong finished with four goals while sisters Natasha and Bianca Batista each tallied three goals.
The Titans will host Palo Alto on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Vikings (2-4, 4-10) dropped an 8-4 decision to visiting Los Altos on Tuesday.
Despite missing standout junior Anna Zhou, who had an afternoon test to take, Gunn posted a 212-225 victory over visiting Homestead and remained atop the SCVAL De Anza Division standings.
Senior Jayshree Sarathy led the Titans (10-0, 11-0) to their 20th straight league win (over two years) with a 1-under-par 33 at Palo Alto Municipal. Tiffany Yang shot 38, Lianna McFarlane-Connelly carded a 44, Sandra Herchen finished with a 48 and Margaret Redfield shot 49.
Gunn and second-place Palo Alto will meet on Wednesday (3:30 p.m.) at Palo Alto Muni with first-place and the Titans' win streak on the line.
In San Jose, Sacred Heart Prep (5-1-1, 5-2-1) kept its possible title hopes alive with a 227-234 victory over host Notre Dame-San Jose in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action at San Jose Muni. Jessica Koenig and Sinead Haley each shot 42 to pace the Gators, who will take on first-place Castilleja on Monday.
Menlo continued to roll in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 7-0 win over host Notre Dame-San Jose at San Jose State. The Knights (3-0, 13-1) won three matches by default as they won their 201st straight league match since 1994, an on-going state record.
In Palo Alto, Castilleja remained on a collision course with Menlo with a big 5-2 victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep at Rinconada Park. The Gators improved to 3-0 in league (6-2 overall) and will host Menlo on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.) in the first of two head-to-head matches.
Paulette Wolak led a sweep of the singles for Castilleja with her 6-1, 6-3 win over Britt Schuman. April Chien battled for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over Tara Ritchey at No. 2 singles while Celeste Woleshyn won at No. 3, 6-4, 6-1, and Rose Crisman took No. 4, 6-0, 3-6, 6-2, over Kate Ackley.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (4-4, 6-9) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to host Hillsdale. The Bears were swept in singles, but took all three doubles matches behind the teams of Sally Carlson-Amanda Scandalios, Carolyn Kelly-Taylor Noble plus Julia Chang-Camilla Calmasini.
The Bears had a shot at victory when Laila Volpe even her match at No. 4 singles, but Volpe eventually dropped a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 decision.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto (4-2, 13-2) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Saratoga while Gunn (1-5, 1-8) fell to visiting Lynbrook at Cubberley Community Center.
Paly, which was coming off a 6-1 nonleague win over Milpitas on Monday, was in great shape after Aashli Budhiraja (7-6, 6-0), Felicia Wang (6-2, 6-0) and Avanika Narayan (6-3, 6-1) swept the top three singles against Saratoga. The Vikings, however, suffered a rare sweep in doubles in straight sets. Palo Alto now trails Monta Vista (6-0) and Saratoga (5-1) in the division race.
Menlo-Atherton grabbed control of the PAL Bay Division race with a 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-9 victory over visiting Carlmont. The Bears improved to 5-0 in league (11-3 overall) while dropping the Scots to 4-1 (11-7).
M-A was led by junior Devin Joos, a junior transfer from St. Francis. She made her season debut a good one with 25 kills and 18 digs from her positions at outside hitter and opposite.
Pauli King added 13 kills and 22 digs for the defending PAL Bay and Central coast Section Division I champion Bears. Virginia Lane added 34 digs and freshman Kirby Knapp produced 51 assists and 11 digs.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, junior Anna Dukovic had seven kills with no hitting errors, hit .412, produced nine digs and five aces to help Palo Alto sweep visiting Monta Vista, 25-21, 25-12, 25-10.
The Vikings (3-1, 13-4) also got 11 kills from Becca Raffel, nine kills from fellow senior Lauren Kerr, 12 digs from senior Keri Gee plus 22 assists from senior Sarah Limb. Paly had only 10 hitting errors in 106 attempts as nine different players contributed to the attack.
At Los Gatos, Gunn won the first set but then dropped three straight while suffering a 19-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-14 loss to host Los Gatos in SCVAL De Anza Division action. The Titans (2-2, 6-8) play host to first-place Homestead on Thursday night at 6:45 p.m.
In the WBAL Foothill Division, Menlo School rolled past host Mercy-San Francisco, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21. The Knights (3-0, 16-4) got 23 kills from Maddie Huber, fellow senior outside hitter Maddy Frappier added 14 kills, Elisa Merten distributed 38 assists while Melissa Cairo picked up 14 digs and Jessica Houghton posted eight digs.
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep suffered reportedly its first-ever loss at home to Castilleja, 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12. Castilleja's last win over SHP reportedly came in 2007 at another site.
Katya Scocimara had 19 kills and 16 digs for Castilleja first-year coach Jacqueline Heler. Jessica Norum added 15 kills and 13 digs; Madeline Johnson finished with 11 kills, two blocks and two aces; Sarah Rose contributed 13 kills and two blocks and Jennifer DiSanto had 50 assists and 17 digs for Castilleja (1-2, 10-8). Elle Kass added 21 digs while Emily Pederson finished with three aces, three kills and three blocks.
SHP (2-1, 11-6) got 22 kills and 28 digs from Victoria Garrick, 18 kills from Ara Peterson, 48 assists from Natalie Marshall and 16 digs from Mamie Caruso.
In Portola Valley, Priory dropped its third straight to open the WBAL Foothill Division season following a 25-22, 25-16, 25-14 setback to visiting Harker. Marine Hall-Poirier led the Panthers (0-3, 13-6) with 22 kills, 10 digs and two aces while setter Riley Gallivan added 19 assists and five digs. Michaela Koval finished with eight digs and two aces for Priory.