The hype is officially over for the Palo Alto girls' volleyball team, at least for now anyway. Two losses in the Mitty Invitational last weekend took care of that as the Vikings, ranked No. 4 nationally heading into the weekend, fell out of the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Volleyball Rankings on Monday.
The Vikings, however, didn't waste any time in righting their ship as they bounced back from their first losses of the season and opened defense of their SCVAL De Anza Division title with a 25-9, 25-18, 25-16 victory over visiting Gunn on Tuesday night.
"I liked the fact that we got challenged this weekend, playing in a tournament with that much caliber," Paly head coach Dave Winn told Sam Borsos of The Viking. "Coming in to today, we knew the competition might not be as strong. I knew Gunn had good players but we didn't know what they were going to do."
Defending CIF Division I champion Palo Alto (1-0, 14-2) improved to 55-3 in its past 58 matches while Gunn dropped to 0-1 (10-7) following a 2-2 effort at the Harbor Classic on Saturday in Santa Cruz.
Senior Melanie Wade led Paly with 11 kills with senior Maddie Kuppe adding eight. Gunn senior Julia Maggioncalda paced the Titans with 11 kills.
Also in Palo Alto, senior Hannah Boland produced 13 kills to lead Castilleja to a sweep of visiting King's Academy in a nonleague match Tuesday night. The Gators (9-5) also got 18 assists from Hannah Hsieh plus seven aces and eight digs from Jessica Norum. Castilleja will back on the court Wednesday to host St. Thomas More at 5:45 p.m.
In San Mateo, Menlo-Atherton opened its PAL Bay Division girls' volleyball season with a 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 victory over San Mateo on Tuesday. The Bears improved to 4-3 overall and will visit Mills on Thursday before hosting its own invitational on Saturday.
In Atherton, Menlo School saw its seven-match win streak come to an end following a 3-0 loss to powerful Sacred Heart Cathedral, 25-21, 25-21, 25-14, in a nonleague match Tuesday in Atherton. Menlo junior Emma Thygesen had 11 kills and sophomore Melissa Cairo had 10 digs for the Knights (11-3). The Fighting Irish, who have advanced to the Central Coast Section Division III championship for the past five years, improved to 14-2.
Menlo hosts the Chris Chandler Invitational on Saturday, opening against perennial CCS Division V power St. Francis-Central Coast Catholic in pool play.
In Hillsborough, Marine Hall-Poirier had 13 kills and three aces to pace Priory to a 25-10, 25-17, 25-16 victory over host Crystal Springs in a WBAL Skyline Division match on Tuesday. The Panthers were coming off a 5-2 finish for fourth place at the 24-team Red Bluff Invitational during the weekend.
In a match to keep Menlo-Atherton perfect in the PAL Bay Division, the Bears produced one of the more exciting girls' tennis matches of the season with a 4-3 victory over host Aragon on Tuesday. M-A (3-0, 5-4) earned the victory with a gutty 7-5 win in the third set at No. 3 doubles.
Aragon came out blazing with 6-0 first-set wins in three of the seven matches and won six of the first seven sets. M-A, however, bounced back, to send the remaining six matches to third sets -- leaving the match very much up for grabs. Only Aragon's Kaede Ishikawa, a transfer from Mills transfer who played No. 1 singles, was able to finish off her opponent in straight sets.
After the next three matches finished, the match was deadlocked at 2. The next two matches were split, leaving the team score at 3-3. Both teams gathered around the final contest at No. 3 doubles, which stood at 4-3 M-A in the decisive third set. After back-and-forth service holds, at 6-5 in M-A's favor, Jenna Scandalios and Missy Lees broke Aragon's serve to secure the victory.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto sophomore Felicia Wang improved her season record to 10-1 with a 6-3, 6-4 victory at No. 2 singles while helping the Vikings edge host Mountain View, 4-3, on Tuesday. The Vikings (1-2, 5-6) also got wins from Sammy Solomon at No. 3 singles (7-5, 6-4), Amy Ke and Katy Abbott at No. 1 doubles (6-4, 4-6, 6-4) and Caroline Nore and Tiffany Nguyen at No. 3 doubles (7-6, 6-1). Ke and Abbott provided the clinching point.
In other matches, Gunn (0-2, 2-8) dropped a 6-1 decision to host Monta Vista in SCVAL De Anza Division action while Castilleja fell to host Harker, 5-2, in the West Bay Athletic League.
Boys' water polo
Palo Alto battled back from a 9-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime before overcoming host Monta Vista, 10-9, to remain tied for first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with Los Altos and Gunn.
The Vikings (3-0, 6-1) overcame their fourth-quarter deficit by scoring three straight goals -- two in the fourth in one in the first of two mandatory overtimes, to pull out the victory.
In Los Gatos, brothers Coby and Ari Wayne combined for five goals and Gavin Kerr tallied three times to pace Gunn to an 11-3 victory over the host Wildcats Los Gatos in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Tuesday. The Titans (2-0) remained tied for first place with Los Altos.
Girls' water polo
With Elizabeth Anderson pouring in four goals, Gunn remained unbeaten in the SCVAL De Anza Division following an 11-6 victory over host Los Gatos on Tuesday. The Titans (2-0, 4-5) grabbed a 3-0 lead in the first quarter and maintained it throughout.
In Cupertino, Skylar Dorosin scored six goals and Shannon Scheel added five as Palo Alto rolled to a 15-3 victory over host Monta Vista in SCVAL De Anza Division action on Tuesday. The Vikings improved to 1-1 in league play.