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Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - September 13, 2013

Good start for Paly volleyball

M-A, Gunn runners get cross-country seasons underway with victories

by Keith Peters

For Palo Alto girls' volleyball coach Dave Winn, this week's schedule appeared to offer the toughest back-to-back matches of the season in Presentation and Sacred Heart Prep.

The Presentation match would be a match-up of the Division I and II state champions of 2011 while last night's showdown at Sacred Heart Prep provided a look at last year's Division IV state runner-up.

For Winn and his Vikings, they achieved the first of their goals with a a rousing come-from-behind 25-19, 13-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-11 nonleague victory on Tuesday night in Paly's gym.

"It was . . . AWESOME!" said Winn. "I was so proud of my team last night. They showed a lot of resolve and poise to withstand the storm of offense and defense that Presentation threw at us. Pres is a very good team, well-coached by someone I totally respect (Sue Dvorak) and they took it to us in the second and third sets."

Freshman setter Jessica Lee received kudos from Winn as she produced 47 assists and 13 digs while guiding the Vikings.

"Jess Lee was incredible," Winn said. "I had to keep reminding myself that she's only a frosh. She played for Vision 14 Gold, which silver-medaled at JOs last season. So, she's certainly had some big-time matches but, obviously, not at the varsity level . . . until last night."

Senior Becca Raffel was the recipient of many of Lee's assists as she produced 25 kills. Junior Jade Schoenberger added 11. Schoenberger added four aces while senior Keri Gee finished with 25 digs, with Raffel adding 17.

Down 13-7 in the fourth set, in a must-win, situation, Good sSchoenberger rattled off nine consecutive serves to pull Paly out of the tailspin and force a deciding fifth set. Both teams traded some nervous errors early on, but the Vikings never trailed in the final set on the way to a 15-11 clincher.

Other solid performers for Paly included senior Lauren Kerr, junior Anna Dukovic and sophmore Claire Dennis.

Palo Alto (6-1) hit .232 as a team and held Presentation to just .210 as a squad. The Vikings opened their season last weekend with a third-place finish at the Deer Valley Tournament.

Sacred Heart Prep, the defending Central Coast Section Division IV champ, saw its perfect season end Tuesday night in a 25-17, 25-11, 25-23 nonleague loss to Valley Christian. The Warriors are ranked No. 8 nationally by prepvolleyball.com and were coming off winning the championship at the Milpitas Spikefest I on the weekend.

It was a combination of SHP losing eight seniors off last year's state runner-up team and Valley Christian simply dominating with its height — the Warriors featured three players at 6-foot-3 or taller plus two 5-11 back-row players, including setter Kirsten Mead of Palo Alto. She had 11 kills, 14 assists and hit .647.

Sacred Heart Prep (2-1) got 17 kills and 18 digs from Victoria Garrick, seven kills and three blocks from Ara Peterson and 28 assists from Natalie Marshall.

In other nonleague action:

Menlo-Atherton (1-1) got 20 kills from Pauli King and 17 from Alyssa Ostrow in a 25-22, 24-26, 24-26, 25-21, 15-12 come-from-behind win over visiting Los Gatos. Virginia Lane produced 33 digs for the Bears with Ostrow adding 21, Kaitlin Tavarez contributing 17 and freshman Kirby Knapp adding 10 plus 46 assists.

In Millbrae, Priory senior Marine Hall-Poirier had 15 kills, seven digs and five aces to pace the Panthers (2-0) to a 25-21, 25-17, 26-16 nonleague win over host Mills. Michaela Koval added 16 digs with Liz Schilling finishing with seven. Riley Gallivan had a solid match with 20 assist and seven digs.

In Palo Alto, Castilleja (4-2) got 13 kills from Jessica Norum and 12 from Sarah Rose in a 23-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-19 nonleague loss to visiting Burlingame.

Cross country

The Menlo-Atherton boys and girls opened their league seasons with solid efforts Wednesday at the first Peninsula Athletic League meet, held on a 2.4-mile course at Westmoor High in Daly City.

The M-A girls won the team title in a tiebreaker after tying with Half Moon Bay, with 29 points each. The victory was decided by the No. 6 runner for each school. That turned out to be freshman Faith Dunn, who finished 19th for the Bears in 16:37. She finished ahead of Half Moon Bay's No. 6, who was 26th.

M-A was led by the 1-2-4 finish by sophomore Madeleine Baier (15:16), senior Taylor Fortnam (15:29) and senior Annika Roise (15:36). Sophomore Cat DuPuy was 10th (16:13) and sophomore Elizabeth Muenzen took 13th (16:21). Half Moon Bay went 3-5-6-7-8 with its top five.

In the boys' varsity race, Menlo-Atherton (86 points) finished third behind Carlmont (24) and Half Moon Bay (55). The Bears were led by senior Zach Plante, whose third-place finish of 12:41 produced the second-fastest time ever by an M-A runner on that course. Junior Adam Scandlyn was 10th overall in 13:09.

Menlo-Atherton also won the Open boys, Open girls, girls' and boys' frosh-soph team titles plus the JV boys' crown.

On Tuesday, Gunn's Sarah Robinson opened her senior season with a dominating victory at the first SCVAL league meet of the year at Crystal Springs in Belmont.

Robinson toured the hilly 2.95-mile course in 18:30.2 to win overall honors. The meet held races in each grade category, with Robinson taking the senior race while running the fastest time of the day.

Gunn's Emily Aiken finished seventh overall in 20:10.5 and teammate Megan Kuhnle was 19th in 21:15.7 to help the Titans finish fourth in the overall team scoring with 91 points. Mountain View won the team title with 66. Palo Alto finished 10th with 265.

In the boys' combined results, Palo Alto freshman Kent Slaney was 14th overall in 16:59.4 and helped the Vikings to a fourth-place finish with 155 points. Gunn was fifth with 175.

Girls golf

Gunn remained unbeaten in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League with a 198-248 victory over Lynbrook at Palo Alto Municipal on Wednesday. Senior Jayshree Sarathy led the Titans (3-0) with a 1-under 33 on the shortened layout. Junior Anna Zhou added a 39 after winning medalist honors Monday with a 35.

Girls tennis

Things are back to normal as the girls' tennis season unfolds, with the CCS playoffs returning to the four-singles, three-doubles format this postseason.

Menlo School and Palo Alto also have returned to their winning ways, not that either team was lacking that in recent years.

The Knights opened their dual-match season on Wednesday with a 6-1 nonleague victory over Burlingame while the Vikings did the same with a 6-1 triumph over visiting Aragon.

Both Menlo (4-1) and Palo Alto (4-0) were coming off tournament performances on the weekend. The Knights finished fifth at the California Classic in the Fresno area after dropping a 4-3 decision to Buchanan when some lineup changes went array. The Vikings wound up winning the Santa Catalina Invitational, a round-robin affair in Monterey.

Paly managed its title without No. 1 singles player Aashli Budhiraja. She was back in the lineup Wednesday and produced a 6-3, 7-5 win over Kaede Ishikawa to get things rolling.

Freshman Avanika Narayan, who won all her matches at No. 1 singles in Budhiraja's absence during the week, couldn't keep up that success and suffered a 2-6, 7-5, 11-9 setback to Aragon's Vicki Sun.

Felicia Wang and Julianne Le won at No. 3 and 4 singles while the doubles tandems of Sam DeWess-Caroline Nore, Hollie Kool-Kelsey Wang and Madeline Lee-Sarah Tayeri all won in straight sets.

In Atherton, Menlo bounced back from its near-perfect weekend with a solid triumph over Burlingame to begin a stretch of eight straight home matches.

What is significant about that is Menlo is closing in on two milestones, both of which should be achieved at home.

If the Knights go unbeaten during that stretch, head coach Bill Shine will earn his 400th dual-match win with the Menlo. Shine is 394-73 in his 18th season.

The Knights also are two wins away from reaching 200 straight league victories. Menlo has won 198 consecutive league dual matches since 1994 and can reach 200 by beating vising Crystal Springs on Oct. 1 and then Harker on Oct. 3, the final match of the homestand.

Against Burlingame, Menlo swept the singles behind Yao, senior Christine Eliazo, sophomore Alice Yao and junior Helena Ong.

In other tennis action Wednesday, Sacred Heart Prep dropped a tough 4-3 nonleague decision to host Carlmont. Kate Ackley won at No. 4 singles, 6-1, 6-4, for the Gators' only win there. The No. 2 doubles team of Allison Harman-Maddy Jones and the No. 3 tandem of Caroline Parsons-Lauren Trihy also won.

On Tuesday, Castilleja opened its home season with a big 6-1 nonleague win over Menlo-Atherton. Paulette Wolak, April Chien and Celeste Woleshyn set the tone by taking the top three singles matches while the Gators' doubles tandems were equally impressive while sweeping.

Boys water polo

Menlo School maintained its one-game lead over rival Menlo-Atherton in the early going of the PAL Bay Division season with a 19-7 dunking of visiting Burlingame on Wednesday.

Nick Bisconti led the offense with six goals with Chris Xi adding five. Seven players scored for the Knights (2-0) and eight players had assists, while Andreas Katsis had five steals. Senior goalie John Wilson played just one quarter and had eight saves, with Spencer Witte finishing up with seven.

Menlo will host St. Francis on Friday in a good early season test at 6 p.m. The teams split their two matches against each other last year, both decisions decided by one goal.

Also in Atherton, host Menlo-Atherton (1-1) swamped visiting Carlmont, 23-1, as Evan McClelland tossed in five goals. Sophomore Mostyn Fero and Demitri Herr each tallied four times and John Knox added three goals.

Girls water polo

New head coach Paul Felton is off to a perfect start at Menlo-Atherton following his team's 17-7 swamping of visiting Carlmont on Wednesday in PAL Bay Division action. Jessica Heilman led the Bears (2-0) with seven goals and now has 15 on the season.

Elsewhere in the Bay Division, Alex Zafran tallied six goals with teammates Anna Yu and Celia Aldrete adding three each as Castilleja (1-1) posted a 14-5 win over host Burlingame.

In the PAL Ocean Division, host Menlo School (2-0) got 17 saves from senior goalie Donya Dehnad in a 12-7 triumph over visiting Mercy-Burlingame. It was the Knights' official season opener after earning a forfeit win over Capuchino last week.

Menlo took a 7-3 halftime lead and, ultimately, got goals from eight players. Kate Huneke, Audrey Flower, Anna Miller and Chloe Ebrahimian each had a pair of goals for the Knights.

"The girls played really well," Menlo first-year coach Matt Jones said. "We have a lot to improve on but they used the skill sets that we have been working on in practice in the game and played hard which is all I can expect from them."

The annual St. Francis Autumn Invitational will be held this weekend at St. Francis and Sacred Heart Prep. Castilleja, Palo Alto, Menlo-Atherton and Sacred Heart Prep are among the 16-team field.

Castilleja opens Friday against Clovis West at St. Francis at 2:40. Sacred Heart Prep will host Palo Alto at 1 p.m. Also in the Gators' pool Friday, Menlo-Atherton faces Los Altos at 1:50 p.m.

The championship match will be Saturday at St. Francis at 4 p.m., with the consolation finals set for 3 p.m.

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