Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - October 15, 2010

Menlo girls improve to 174-0 in league tennis duals; Palo Alto volleyball stretches its win streak to 24

The Menlo School girls' tennis team has not lost a league match since the end of the 1993 season. If victories over Harker and Castilleja this week were any indication, the Knights' streak will remain intact for another season.

Menlo improved to 6-0 this season in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) play with a 7-0 triumph over Castilleja on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Menlo produced a 6-1 triumph over host Harker. The Knights (11-2 overall) now have won 174 straight league matches and have captured 16 consecutive league crowns since 1994.

Harker appeared to be the only WBAL team with a chance to end that streak this season, but Menlo showed Tuesday that it's not ready to see its remarkable string of triumphs end soon.

Sophomore Giannina Ong rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to pull out a 4-6, 7-5 (default) victory at No. 1 singles to pace Menlo. Her opponent had to default when she began to get leg cramps late in the second set.

Freshman Kristy Jorgensen continued her excellent play with a 6-1, 6-3 win at No. 2 singles while freshman Christine Eliazo won at No. 3, 6-0, 7-5, and sophomore Laura Gradiska posted a 6-1, 6-3 triumph at No. 4 for the youthful Knights.

Menlo had only three seniors in the lineup against Harker and only one, Lauren Robinson at No. 3 doubles, suffered a loss.

Against Castilleja, the Knights lost only seven games while sweeping the singles.

Menlo will be in Dana Point in Southern California this weekend for the annual National Invitational tournament.

Castilleja dropped a 7-0 decision to host Sacred Heart Prep in another WBAL Foothill Division match on Tuesday. SHP (3-2, 10-5) swept the singles while losing only five games.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (7-2, 8-4) took care of host Half Moon Bay, 6-1. The Bears swept the doubles and lost only at No. 2 singles where M-A's Julia Sommer fell in three sets, 1-6, 7-5, 10-4.

M-A senior Paige Keating slugged it out for more than two outs with Simone Vandroff before securing a 7-5, 7-6 (13-11) victory at No. 1 singles in the featured match.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (3-5, 8-5) followed up its victory in its own tournament with a 4-3 triumph over host Lynbrook.

The Vikings won the Palo Alto Invitational on Saturday, winning three matches in a reduced field after three teams pulled out due to SATs on Saturday morning. Paly junior Amy Ke was 9-for-9 during the tourney while playing at No. 1 doubles.

At Gunn, the Titans (2-5, 7-9) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Los Altos in another SCVAL De Anza Division match. The Eagles wound up clinching the victory by sweeping the singles after Gunn's Allana Booth and Alice Li had won their opening games at No. 1 and 3 singles, respectively.

Girls' golf

Castilleja remained unbeaten and moved to within one victory of wrapping up the West Bay Athletic League regular-season title following a 210-285 victory over Notre Dame-San Jose on Wednesday at Santa Teresa Golf Course in San Jose.

The Gators (7-0) were led by senior Brenna Nelsen, who fired a 2-under 34. Sarah Debs added a 40, as did Taylor Wilkinson. Caroline Debs and Stephanie Merenbach both shot 48. Castilleja can wrap up the league crown with a win over second-place Sacred Heart Prep on Monday at Sharon Heights Country Club.

Sacred Heart Prep (7-1, 8-1) tuned up for its showdown with Castilleja with a 250-290 victory over host Mercy-Burlingame on Tuesday at Crystal Springs in Hillsborough. Rachael Henry earned medalist honors while leading the Gators with a 5-over 41. Kennedy Shields and Shelby Soltau each shot 46.

Girls' volleyball

Two division leaders kept their winning streaks alive while the topsy-turvey West Bay Athletic League showed that it will be an interesting showcase day in and out to highlight Tuesday night's girls' volleyball action.

Palo Alto and Gunn continued to streak through their respective SCVAL divisions with quick victories. The Vikings (6-0, 24-0) held on to their one-game lead in the De Anza Division with a 25-19, 25-13, 25-20 triumph over visiting Saratoga while the Titans (6-0, 20-4) extended their lead in the El Camino Division with a 25-19, 25-12, 25-12 win over visiting Lynbrook.

Junior Melanie Wade led Palo Alto with 10 kills on a hot night in a hot gym. Paly coach Dave Winn said his team came out flat and played uninspired against the 1-5 Falcons as the Vikings closed the first half of league play.

Palo Alto will open the second half of division action on Thursday at Monta Vista as a tuneup for next week when the Vikings host Mountain View (Tuesday) and second-place Los Gatos (Thursday) in matches that should decide the division championship.

At Gunn, the Titans (6-0, 20-4) also wrapped up first-half play as sophomore Lisa Yan provided seven kills for the host team. Gunn won its sixth straight and has captured 12 of its past 13 matches, the only loss during that time coming to Palo Alto.

In the WBAL Foothill Division, the first of numerous showdowns took place as defending Central Coast Section Division IV champion Sacred Heart Prep overhauled 2009 CCS Division V runnerup Castilleja, 23-25, 26-28, 29-27, 25-18, 15-13 in a battle of the Gators.

Castilleja (1-1, 22-3) appeared as if it was going to improve upon its 11-match winning streak after taking a 2-0 lead. In Game 3, however, SHP (3-0, 13-7) battled back after Castilleja had match points at 26-25 and 27-26. Sacred Heart scored the final three points (Jesse Ebner's kill made it 29-27) to stay alive — riding that momentum to wins in Games 4 and 5. Castilleja did rally in the final game from a 12-8 deficit to tie at 13, before SHP closed out the match.

Sonia Abuel-Saud and Sarah Daschbach each had 23 kills for SHP with Abuel-Saud adding 24 digs and Dashbach 16. Amelia Alvarez (25 assists) and Hanna Elmore (23 assists) set up the kills while Olivia Bertolacci contributed 22 digs.

Castilleja also put up some big stats in the marathon match as junior Hannah Boland had 20 kills and 10 blocks while sophomore Lucy Tashman added 17 kills, five blocks, three aces and 20 digs. Senior Laura Rose added 13 kills and six blocks while libero Lindsey Wang had 38 digs and setter Hannah Hsieh contributed 58 assists and 16 digs.

Castilleja will travel to face Notre Dame-San Jose on Thursday and then visits defending league champ Mercy-Burlingame on Friday in a rescheduled match. Sacred Heart Prep next hosts rival Menlo on Thursday at 6:15 p.m.

Menlo (2-0, 15-6) remained in a tie for the division lead with an 18-25, 25-21, 24-26, 25-15, 15-9 marathon win over visiting Harker. It was the Knights' seventh straight victory.

"After a slow start, and losing a tough third set, our girls showed a lot of character to come back and win the match," said Menlo coach Chris Crader. "Harker will never give you anything because they always play really hard, so it was a great effort by us to overcome that."

Menlo freshman Maddie Huber tied the career high she set in her last match, recording 17 kills, and added 21 digs, three aces and two blocks to lead the Knights. Senior Jazmin Moledina added 13 kills, seven blocks, four digs and two aces. Junior Natalie Roy also had 13 kills, adding 10 digs and three aces.

Sophomore Drew Edelman hit .500 with five kills, four blocks and three digs. Freshman Melissa Cairo chipped in with 11 digs. Sophomore Alexandra Ko had 43 assists, 12 digs and four aces. And sophomore Emma Thygesen made her first appearance of the fall after suffering a major ankle injury during the preseason. Thygesen had two blocks and four digs, and added two kills in the fifth set, including the match-ender. Senior Emily Ryles and sophomore Kendyl Denenberg combined for nine more digs to bolster the back row.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained within reach of the division leaders with a 25-15, 25-11, 25-16 win over host Woodside. Regina Mullen had 10 kills, three aces and five digs for the Bears (6-1, 13-6) while Diane Seely added seven kills and five blocks. Hannah Branning served five aces while Sofi King provided 20 assists as M-A remained alone in second place, trailing only Burlingame.

Menlo-Atherton will have an opportunity to avenge a previous loss to the Panthers when the Bears visit Burlingame on Oct. 21.

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