Paly, Gunn girls take volleyball titles into CCS

Sacred Heart Prep, however, falls to Mercy-Burlingame in showdown for first place in the WBAL

The Palo Alto and Gunn High girls' volleyball teams will head into the Central Coast Section playoffs next week with league championships, but Sacred Heart Prep will not following the final night of the regular season for all three squads on Thursday.

Palo Alto wrapped up a fifth straight SCVAL De Anza Division title and, most likely, a No. 1 seed for the CCS Division I playoffs, with a 25-22, 25-19, 25-14 win over visiting Los Altos.

The Vikings (34-1 overall) honored Trina Ohms and Megan Coleman on Senior Night, with Ohms providing 12 kills and 13 digs while Coleman added 15 digs. Junior Melanie Wade had 20 kills to lead the way. Junior setter Kimmy Whitson provided 45 assists while junior Caroline Martin added eight kills and four digs. Junior Ally Kron organized a fundraiser for the match, raising money from donors for every kill, dig, and ace registered by Paly (52 kills, 50 digs, 6 aces).

Palo Alto is now only two victories away from tying the school record for single-season wins (36), set last year.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, the seniors all contributed on Senior Night as Gunn wrapped up a perfect (12-0) division campaign with a 25-15, 25-4, 25-19 triumph over visiting Fremont. Kiana Choroski had 17 kills to lead the senior effort while fellow senior Nicole Grimwood added 11 digs and two aces from her libero position. Audrey Waschura had 10 digs and served the first 21 points of Game 2, which included four aces, and fellow senior Michelle Williams finished with four kills and three digs. Junior setter Alyn Shen dished out 32 assists for the Titans, who won 36 out of 37 division games this season.

In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), host Sacred Heart Prep saw its hopes for a first-ever girls' volleyball title in the WBAL disappear in a 20-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-23 loss to visiting Mercy-Burlingame. Mercy (9-1) won the title with the triumph while the Gators (8-2, 18-10) had to settle for second place after losing twice to the Crusaders this season. Junior Sarah Daschbach led SHP with 17 kills and 19 digs while sophomore Sonia Abuel-Saud added 14 kills and 10 digs. Hanna Elmore contributed 24 assists, Amelia Alvarez added 18 assists and Olivia Bertolacci finished with 19 digs for the Gators, who will begin defense of their CCS Division IV title next week.

Also in the WBAL (Foothill Division), Menlo saved three match points to defeat host Castilleja, 25-19, 16-25, 26-24, 23-25, 18-16 on the Gators' Senior Night. The Knights improve to 5-5 in league (20-14 overall) while Castilleja fell to 4-6 (25-8). With the win, Menlo finishes in sole possession of third place in league, and is an automatic qualifier for the CCS Division IV tournament. Castilleja most likely will qualify for the Division V playoffs.

"This was a great win for us," said Menlo coach Chris Crader. "We struggled at times, and certainly made mistakes, but the girls really, really played their hearts out, and their effort pulled us through."

Menlo freshman Maddie Huber (who attended Castilleja's middle school for 6th through 8th grade) hit .267 with a team-high 15 kills, 10 digs, three blocks and an ace, and junior Natalie Roy had 13 kills, 13 digs and three aces. Senior Jazmin Moledina added 10 kills, six digs, five blocks and two aces, and senior Anelise Hohl recorded six kills, four blocks and three digs. Freshman Melissa Cairo had 15 digs and freshman Maddy Frappier had 37 assists, nine digs, two blocks, and served up one ace, on match point.

Menlo trailed 3-0 in the Game 5, but pulled ahead 4-3, then dropped behind 7-4. The Knights finally tied it up again at 10, and led for only the second time at 12-11, but Castilleja regained the lead and served for the match at 14-13, 15-14, and 16-15. But Menlo saved all three match points on a Gator error, and kills by Huber and Hohl. Frappier had two match-saving digs to help the Knights tie it at 14-all and 16-all. Huber and Hohl got a stuff block to put the Knights ahead, then Frappier served her ace to end it.

Castilleja senior Laura Rose had nine kills and six blocks while junior Hannah Boland came up big with 25 kills and 10 blocks, while sophomore setter Hannah Hsieh had 45 assists.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports

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