Showdown looms in volleyball
Paly girls next face Los Gatos, the last team to beat the Vikings
Palo Alto girls' volleyball coach Dave Winn is not one to look past matches. Thus, hosting Los Altos last night was the next important step forward for the Vikings this week.
Yet, there is a very big match looming on Tuesday at Los Gatos and Winn likely has that one on his mind.
If the Vikings and Wildcats both won on Thursday, they'll be one-two in the SCVAL De Anza Division heading into their next match in Los Gatos at 6:45 p.m.
That showdown was expected to be between two undefeated teams, but Los Gatos was upended by Homestead on Tuesday and fell into a second-place tie with the Mustangs, both at 4-1. Thus, the Vikings were in sole possession of first place heading into the Los Altos match.
The last time Paly lost a league match, it was on the road to the Wildcats on Oct. 21, 2010. It was the Vikings' only loss in a 41-1 state championship season. Since then, Paly has won 20 straight division matches.
The latest came Tuesday night in San Jose as Paly defeated host Lynbrook, 25-15, 25-19, 25-13, to improve to 5-0 in league (16-3 overall).
Bella Graves had eight kills in only nine swings and added three blocks to help spark the two-time defending state champion Vikings. Senior co-captain Shelby Knowles also added eight kills with junior Becca Raffel adding seven. Senior co-captain Sophia Bono finished with 24 assists while junior Keri Gee contributed 12 digs.
Elsewhere in SCVAL De Anza Division action, host Gunn snapped a two-match losing streak by handing Mountain View a 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 27-25 defeat. The Titans improved to 2-3 (9-8 overall).
Gunn served up 12 aces, four by libero Mika Munch, while keeping in the thick of the division race. Lena Latour had a match-high 17 kills while Gunn teammate Erica Johnston added 11.
In Portola Valley, serving and effective blocking led Menlo School (3-0, 14-5) to a 3-0 victory over host Priory in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) match. Maddie Huber and Maddy Frappier led the attack with 11 kills each in the Knights' 25-20, 25-20, 25-14 victory.
Sarah Bruml registered nine kills, and the team finished with a .269 hitting percentage. Menlo again served well, logging nine aces — led by Elisa Merten with three. Blocking was a force and the Knights registered 11 team blocks led by Charlotte Kohlberg with six.
Priory libero Michaela Koval had 14 digs for the Panthers (1-2, 14-5).
In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep got 13 kills and seven blocks from senior Payton Smith in a 25-22, 29-27, 25-16 victory over Castilleja in WBAL Foothill Division action. Ellie Shannon added nine kills and six blocks while fellow senior Sonia Abuel-Saud finished with seven kills and 10 digs for the Gators (3-0, 18-2).
Helen Gannon (15 digs) and fellow senior Cammie Merten (19 assists) also contributed to the Gators' victory. Lucy Tashman led Castilleja (0-3, 11-11) with 11 kills, nine digs and four blocks.
In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton (5-0, 12-5) got eight kills from Ally Ostrow and Saane Fakalata in a 25-14, 25-16, 25-21 victory over visiting Hillsdale. The Bears played without injured Ali Spindt and Mele Moimoi (family commitment), but still had plenty of firepower to remain tied for first place with Carlmont.
Katelyn Doherty added 20 assists, 17 digs and six kills while Kaitlin Tavarez finished with 16 assists for the Bears.
Menlo School, Sacred Heart Prep, Gunn and Menlo-Atherton will be looking to keep their winning streaks intact while Palo Alto will be hoping to start one during league matchups on Friday.
Sacred Heart Prep (4-0) will open its PAL Bay Division season against visiting Burlingame at 3 p.m., looking for its first 5-0 start since going 8-0 in 2008. The Panthers, however, have a history of ending SHP streaks, upending the Gators after four wins in 2010 following a bye week by SHP. Coincidently, the Gators had a bye last week.
Menlo, coming off a 40-0 nonleague win over Mills, will put its 4-0 mark on the line in a PAL Ocean Division opener on Friday at Woodside at 7 p.m.
Menlo-Atherton (2-2) will open PAL Bay Division action Friday (7 p.m.) against visiting Aragon in a battle of possible title contenders. The Bears tuned up with a 13-7 nonleague win over South San Francisco last week.
Gunn (1-0, 3-2) will visit Harker on Friday (7:30 p.m.) after beating Lynbrook 20-12, to open the SCVAL El Camino Division season last week.
Palo Alto, coming off a 24-19 loss in its SCVAL De Anza Division opener to Milpitas last week, takes a 2-2 overall mark to Homestead on Friday at 7:30 p.m., hoping to gain some momentum with big games coming up against Wilcox and Los Gatos.
Gunn opened the second half of the Blossom Valley Athletic League season with a 236-305 victory over Santa Teresa at Palo Alto Municipal on Wednesday. Tiffany Yang led the Titans (6-0, 9-1) for the first time this season while shooting a 4-over 41. Sophomore Anna Zhou added a 42.
Castilleja solidified its hold on first place in the WBAL (Foothill Division) golf race with a 232-266 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday at Sharon Heights Country Club. The Gators (4-0, 5-0) were led by Chloe Sales' 4-over 40 with Caroline Debs adding a 46.
Menlo School tuned up for its first showdown with Harker with a 7-0 victory over Crystal Springs on Tuesday. The Knights improved to 3-0 in league (8-7 overall) and will put their league mark of 191-0 since 1994 on the line Thursday against host Harker.
Liz Yao, Giannina Ong, Christine Eliazo and Laura Gradiska swept the singles for Menlo while losing only a combined eight games.
In the SCVAL El Camino Division, host Gunn remained solidly in first place following a 5-2 victory over Wilcox at Cubberley Community Center. The Titans (6-0, 8-7) split the singles but swept the doubles behind the tandems of Anjali Herekar-Jenny Yoon, Ebba Nord-Devyani Bhadkamkar and Antoinette Nguyen-Angela Juang.
In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained a game behind first-place Carlmont following a 6-1 victory over host Hillsdale. Erin LaPorte, Lindy LaPlante and Jenna Scandalios won the No. 2, 3 and 4 singles while losing only a combined four games as the Bears improved to 7-1 (9-4). The M-A doubles teams were even more impressive as they went 6-0, 6-0 in all three matches.
Palo Alto (10-6) handed visiting Castilleja a 7-0 nonleague loss on Wednesday after nearly upsetting unbeaten Monta Vista on Tuesday, 4-3, in SCVAL De Anza Division action.