Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 17, 2010

Paly girls keep eyes on prize

Special season still has long way to go despite great start

by Keith Peters

The Palo Alto girls' volleyball team has started the season with 11 straight victories, the best start in school history. Coach Dave Winn wouldn't mind finishing the season that way, either.

Between now and then, the Vikings have plenty of obstacles ahead as they attempt to compile the best record and finish in program history.

With already one tournament title secured, Palo Alto will go after its second championship when the Vikings compete in the one-day Harbor Tournament on Saturday in Santa Cruz.

Palo Alto is the defending champion and goes in seeded No. 1. The Vikings could meet unbeaten Aptos during tourney in perhaps one of the best early season showdowns for both teams.

Another such showdown took place this week when Palo Alto hosted Gunn, matching teams that had won tourneys in the opening two weeks of the season.

Despite the matchup of natural rivals, Tuesday's competition was one-sided.

The visiting Titans, playing without starting setter Monica Cai and without starting outside hitter Julia Maggioncalda, proved to be no match during a 25-10, 25-10, 25-12 nonleague setback to the Vikings.

Palo Alto (11-0) had won the High Sierra Classic with a 9-0 mark two weeks ago while Gunn (12-4) captured the Central California Classic last weekend with a 7-1 mark. That, perhaps, was the only similarities the teams had heading into their match.

Paly was simply too tall and too deep and took advantage of Gunn's missing players, both sidelined by injuries. The Vikings controlled the tempo throughout, due to come balanced attacking from junior Kimmy Whitson's nice setting. She finished with 23 assists, three kills, two aces and three digs.

Junior Melanie Wade had 11 kills for Paly with no hitting errors, producing a hitting percentage of .647 with two blocks and an ace. Senior outside hitter Trina Ohms added nine kills (.350 hitting), five aces and six digs while senior libero Megan Coleman contributed 19 digs. Junior Maddie Kuppe (seven kills, four digs) and sophomore Shelby Knowles (five digs, three aces) also had a hand in the victory.

Molly McAdam, Lisa Yan and Kiana Choroski each contributed two kills on the night for Gunn, and Allison Doerpinghaus had three blocks.

The Titans were unable to put enough pressure on the Vikings in serve receive or on defense and were forced to go to a two-setter offense in order to get more of a blocking presence and additional offense. Nicole Grimwood performed admirably in her setting duties in the place of the injured Cai, and Alyn Shen played with her usual intensity and effort.

The Titans travel to Fremont next Tuesday and then host Milpitas on Sept. 23.

In other volleyball action this week:

Castilleja (6-1) got 16 kills and five solo blocks from junior Hannah Boland and 11 kills from sophomore Lucy Tashman in a 25-16, 25-18, 22-25, 25-11 nonleague victory over Silver Creek. Hannah Hsieh produced 40 assists and Clare Dreyfus served seven aces while Lindsey Wang had 21 digs and five aces for the Gators.

In Belmont, Sacred Heart Prep dropped a 25-14, 25-22, 25-21 nonleague decision to host Carlmont. Sarah Daschbach had nine kills and six digs for the Gators while Jesse Ebner added seven kills and four blocks with Hannah Elmore contributing 12 assists and seven digs.

On Wednesday, Sacred Heart Prep got 12 kills and 16 digs from senior Daschbach and rolled to a 25-17, 25-10, 25-15 nonleague victory over visiting San Mateo. The Gators (7-4) also got 13 kills and two aces from Sonia Abuel-Saud plus 19 assists from Amelia Alvarez and 18 assists from Elmore.

In Los Altos Hills, Pinewood (2-2) suffered its second straight setback while dropping a 25-15, 25-11, 25-9 nonleague test to visiting St. Thomas More. The Panthers had 34 serve receive errors and hit a negative .269 as a team with eight kills and 22 hitting errors in 52 attempts. Pinewood's Lizzy Fields had three stuff blocks to raise her season total to 21.

Girls' golf

Menlo School opened its West Bay Athletic League season as freshman Chandler Wickers won medalist honors with a 46 to pace the Knights to a 260-322 thumping of host Mercy-Burlingame at Crystal Springs Golf Course in Hillsborough on Wednesday.

Menlo senior Gabby Girard shot a 47 while her sister, Virginia, also contributed to the scoring.

Girls' tennis

Coming off a solid finish at last weekend's California High School Girls Tennis Classic in Fresno, Gunn kept the momentum going with a 4-3 victory over host Los Altos to open the SCVAL De Anza Division season on Tuesday.

The Titans, who went 4-1 in Fresno (finishing 20th out of 111 teams) after losing to eventual runnerup Corona Del Mar in the opening round, found themselves tied at 3 with Los Altos with No. 3 doubles still battling.

Natalie Wilson and Andrea Gonzalez won the first set in a tiebreaker, but lost the second before pulling out the victory, 7-6 (7-1), 1-6, 6-3, and the match.

Gunn had lost three of four singles matches with only Peying Lee's 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 4 preventing a sweep. That left it up to the doubles, where Cara Lai-Angela Juang and Natasha Allen-Laura Kidder won in straight sets for Gunn (1-0, 5-2).

In nonleague action, host Palo Alto played without No. 1 singles player Janet Liu (away in New York) and dropped a 4-3 decision to Lynbrook. Paly was swept in all four singles matches.

Palo Alto bounced back from that a tough season-opening loss and blanked host Notre Dame-San Jose, 7-0, in nonleague play Wednesday. The Vikings (1-1) swept every match in straight sets. Senior Mira Khanna led the way with a 6-0, 6-2 win at No. 1 singles.

Elsewhere, Sacred Heart Prep (2-1) had only one match go to three sets during a 7-0 victory over Crystal Springs on Tuesday. Only Alex Marshall, at No. 2 singles, was pushed to three sets but she pulled out a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory. Alyssa Kohrs paced the sweep with a 6-2, 7-5 win at No. 1 singles.

In Atherton, Menlo dropped a 5-2 nonleague decision to defending CCS champ Saratoga on Wednesday. The Falcons (5-0) were coming off a big tournament championship at the California High School Girls Tennis Classic in Clovis last weekend, where Menlo finished fifth.

Menlo (4-2) took Saratoga to three sets in four matches, but lost three of them.

"We have to get better at that," Menlo coach Bill Shine said.

Menlo's victories came at No. 3 singles from freshman Christine Eliazo (6-2, 5-7, 6-2) and at No. 4 singles from sophomore Laura Gradiska (6-3, 6-2).

"I was really pleased with how they played," Shine said. "We were not intimidated. The girls grew up a lot since last weekend."

Boys' water polo

The last time Sacred Heart Prep played Acalanes, the Gators captured the victory and the tournament championship of the CCS-NCS Challenge. Sacred Heart Prep went on later in the season to win the CCS Division II crown for a third straight season.

The Gators and Acalanes met again on Wednesday to open the 2010 season, with Sacred Heart Prep getting off to a good start with an 8-7 nonleague triumph in Atherton.

Senior Philip Bamberg scored in the third quarter to give SHP an 8-6 lead, which held up in the fourth period. He finished with two goals while senior Robert Dunlevie led the way with three tallies. Sophomore goalie Will Runkel, making his starting debut, played very well and finished with 12 saves.

On Tuesday, senior Ken Wattana scored four goals and sophomore Bret Pinsker added two goals plus three steals to pace Palo Alto to a 9-6 victory over host Los Gatos to open the SCVAL De Anza Division season. Junior goalie Daniel Armitano had 12 saves for the Vikings, including two during man-down situations.

In Portola Valley, host Priory dropped a 10-8 season-opening decision to Aragon in PAL Ocean Division action. Michael Wan scored three goals for the Panthers, which fell behind by 7-1 at halftime before outscoring the Dons in the second half. Eric Turnquist added two goals for Priory.

Girls' water polo

Menlo-Atherton got three goals from senior MJ O'Neill in a 6-5 overtime triumph over visiting Los Altos in nonleague action Wednesday. The Bears also got two goals from junior Emily Gran and one from junior Danielle Flanagan.

Gran provided the winning goal for the Bears, who fell behind at halftime (5-4) before tightening up their defense in the second half and holding Los Altos scoreless for the final 14 minutes of regulation and six minutes (two periods) of overtime.

Senior goalie Emily Dorst was a standout on the defensive end with 11 blocks for the Bears, who stepped up and fought hard for 34 minutes to post a victory over a tough CCS Division I rival. Menlo-Atherton beat Los Altos in the CCS semifinals last season.

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