Only a year ago, Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep were locked in a battle for first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) girls' volleyball race.
Now, with the first round of the division season completed, Menlo finds itself in complete control with a two-game lead over its closest challengers.
Sacred Heart Prep is among that group of pursuers, two games back with five division matches remaining after being swept by the Knights on Thursday night.
Sailing through the first round of league play, Menlo School heads to the Stockton Classic this weekend on the heels of a 3-0 victory over visiting SHP. The Knights (5-0, 18-4) defeated the Gators, 25-15, 25-14, 25-17 to win their 12th in a row.
Despite missing starters Maddy Frappier and Sarah Bruml to injuries, Menlo rolled past the Gators (3-2, 17-7) as Maddie Huber registered 11 kills, 12 digs and an ace while Lida Vandermeer had 15 kills, five blocks and eight digs. Elisa Merten had 34 assists, 11 digs and a pair of blocks for Menlo, and libero Melissa Cairo had a team-high 19 digs and three aces.
SHP was led by its tandem of juniors Victoria Garrick (17 kills and 14 digs) and setter Natalie Marshall (25 assists and 11 digs).
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto dropped out of a three-way tie for first place following a 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-21 loss to host Homestead on Thursday. The Mustangs improved to 6-1 in league while Paly dropped to 5-2 (15-5 overall).
Becca Raffel had 15 kills and 11 digs for the Vikings while Lauren Kerr added 11 kills and six block. Jade Schoenberger provided 10 kills and 11 digs, Keri Gee finished with 18 digs, Jessica Lee had 10 digs and 38 assists while Anna Dukovic finished with 13 digs.
Also in the De Anza Division, Gunn got a big match from Erica Johnston in a 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 25-21 win over visiting Monta Vista. Johnston had 18 kills, 15 digs, four aces and three blocks as the Titans moved to 3-4 in league (7-10 overall).
Meghan Mahoney had 11 kills for Gunn with Miranda Carothers providing 11 blocks. Tahra Knudsen had 27 digs and Nicole Brigham contributed 53 assists for the Titans, who snapped a four-match losing streak.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton also dropped out of a three-way tie for first place following a 14-25, 25-23, 25-16, 5-25, 15-9 upset loss to visiting Burlingame on Thursday.
In the WBAL Skyline Division, Mercy Burlingame defeated host Pinewood, 25-18, 25-23, 25-14. Mehra den Braven led Pinewood (3-4, 10-9) with 21 kills.
The Menlo School girls ran away with team honors with three top-10 finishes at the WBAL's second meet of the season Thursday at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.
Menlo sophomore Zoe Enright took second place, finishing the 3.1-mile flat course in 19:17 seconds. Junior Lizzie Lacy was third overall in 19:36.6.
"I just tried to run my race," Enright said. "I just tried not to start too fast; I tried to just go at my own pace."
The Knights easily won the team competition with 42 points, ahead of King's Academy (63) and Crystal Springs (67). Sacred Heart Prep was sixth, Priory seventh, Castilleja eighth and Eastside Prep ninth.
Menlo's Eliza Crowder was ninth in 20:26.7, and was the second freshman finisher overall behind only Harker's Niki Iyer, who shattered the course record with a time of 18:18. Sarah Robinson of Gunn held the previous mark of 18:31.2 in 2011.
Hana Marscheck of Priory was seventh in 20:15.3 and Alina Brown of Castilleja was 10th in 20:28.6.
In the boys' race, Sacred Heart Prep ran away with the title. The Gators scored 27 points as Daniel Hill finished second (16:23.6), Sasha Novitsky third (17:31.1), Carter Kremer fifth (17:21.8), Garrett Mock ninth (17:24) and Brett Anstrom 13th (17:41).
Dennis Mandudzo led the Menlo boys with a 12th-place finish of 17:38.5. The Knights finished fifth as a team. Eastside Prep was sixth.
Gunn wrapped up a share of the SCVAL girls' golf title with a 181-217 victory over host Monta Vista at the par-30 Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino on Thursday. The Vikings finished 13-1 in league, tying with Palo Alto. The rivals will square off again in the league tournament on Tuesday at Santa Terersa GC in San Jose.
Gunn senior Jayshree Sarathy and junior Anna Zhou each shot 1-under 29 against Monta Vista while Tiffany Yang shot 38. Sabrina Chen carded a 41 and Margaret Redfield rounded out the scoring with a 44.
In Sunnyvale, Palo Alto finished up its regular season and earned a share of first place in the SCVAL with a 208-236 win over host Homestead at par-35 Sunnyvale Muni. Michelle Xie shot a 1-over 36 to pace the Vikings (13-1) while freshman Emily Hwang shot 39.