The Palo Alto girls' volleyball team successfully defended its title at the annual Harbor Invitational and remained unbeaten while doing so on Saturday in Santa Cruz. The Vikings won six straight matches, all in two games, while improving to 18-0 on the season.
Playing some of their best volleyball of the season, the Vikings dominated both North Salinas in the semifinals (26-16, 25-15) and previously unbeaten Aptos in the Gold Division finals (25-18, 25-16).
Paly senior Trina Ohms was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player while juniors Maddie Kuppe and Kimmy Whitson were named to the all-tournament team.
"The girls played at a very high level the whole day," said Paly coach Dave Winn, who has his team off to the best start in program history. "Our defense was definitely better than we displayed at Reno (when Paly won the High Sierra Classic).
"Several opposing coaches commented that they just could not stop our offense since we had such a balanced attack, but what I'm most proud of was our defense. The girls were very focused on being disciplined in each of their defensive assignments and really celebrated the great defensive plays just as much as our big kills. It was a truly great day of high quality volleyball for our squad."
Ohms had 42 kills, 23 digs and two aces while seemingly making big plays at the biggest times. Junior Melanie Wade had a team-high 54 kills (.588 hitting) with five aces and eight blocks. Winn said the 6-oot-5 Wade was impossible to stop at times.
Kuppe added 38 kills (.373 hitting) with 42 digs, her best defensive day of the season. Caroline Martin contributed 12 kills and four blocks while Whitson had 22 digs, nine kills and a whopping 132 assists. Megan Coleman, the team's other senior, added 48 digs and nine aces while Shelby Knowles produced 16 aces and 11 digs with Jackie Koenig adding 11 kills and two blocks.
In pool play, Palo Alto defeated Soquel (25-13, 25-20), downed Santa Cruz (25-20, 25-12) and topped Notre Dame-Salinas, 25-17, 25-16. In the quarterfinals, the Vikings bounced San Benito (25-14, 25-10) for the second time in three days.
Palo Alto will open defense of its SCVAL De Anza Division title by visiting Los Altos on Tuesday and hosting Monta Vista on Thursday.
Also at the Harbor tourney, Menlo School finished third in the 16-team event played at Santa Cruz and Harbor highs. The Knights went 3-2 on the day while improving to 8-4 this season.
"Overall, it was a great tournament for us," Menlo coach Chris Crader said. "The girls showed improvement every match, we played really hard and really well, and we gained a lot of great experience."
Menlo opened with a 25-17, 25-14 win over Pajaro Valley. Freshman Maddie Huber hit .353 with seven kills and senior Anelise Hohl added six kills. Maddy Frappier recorded five kills, and sophomore Kristina Van de Goor and freshman Melissa Cairo had six digs each. Senior Jazmin Moledina and sophomore Alexandra Ko had three aces each.
Menlo then got past Carmel, 25-21, 25-18, as Frappier hit .643 with a career-best 11 kills. Junior Natalie Roy added seven kills and five digs, and Huber had five kills and six digs. The Knights concluded pool play with a tough loss to North Salinas, 25-23, 16-25, 15-11. Frappier, a 13-year-old freshman, hit .563 with nine kills and three digs in the loss, and classmate Huber had 10 kills and nine digs. Cairo had 14 digs and Ko had nine digs and 36 assists.
By finishing second in its pool, Menlo advanced to the top eight for playoffs. The Knights opened with a terrific comeback to defeat Chico, 31-29, 25-20. Menlo trailed 22-14 in the first game and saved five game points before the Knights rallied to win.
"Everybody in the gym thought the set was over, but our girls just kept battling, one point at a time, and worked their way back into that set, and the match. It was a terrific comeback," said said Crader.
Moledina hit .538 with eight kills and three blocks, and Hohl hit .462 with six kills as Menlo's senior middle blockers led the comeback.
In the semis, Menlo fell to a strong Aptos squad, 17-25, 25-17, 15-9. Huber hit .292 with 10 kills and 12 digs, and Ko added seven digs and 14 assists. Cairo and Roy had five digs apiece, and Edelman had two aces and two blocks. Maddie Huber was named to the all-tournament team.
At the annual Menlo-Atherton Varsity Invitational on Saturday, the host Bears finished second in the Gold Division after dropping a 9-25, 25-15, 15-12 decision to fourth-seeded Homestead. The Bears (7-5) were seeded No. 2.
Menlo-Atherton went 3-0 in pool play with victories over Saratoga (25-21, 25-11), Homestead (25-12, 25-15), and Sobrato (25-12, 25-12). The Bears topped Live Oak in the semifinals (25-12, 25-16) before Homestead avenged its earlier defeat to M-A.
The Bears were led by Sarah Collins (50 assists, 26 digs), Seini Moimoi (19 blocks), and Regina Mullen (25 kills, 8 aces).
At the Westmont Tournament, Castilleja (11-2) fashioned a 4-1 record that included a second-place finish as the Gators fell to West Bay Athletic League rival Mercy-Burlingame in the championship match, 25-15, 25-15.
Castilleja swept Lynbrook (25-19, 25-16), Sequoia (25-14, 25-13) and San Lorenzo Valley (26-24, 25-9) to reach the Gold Division semifinals where the Gators upended CCS rival Mt. Madonna, 25-14, 25-18, to reach the finals.