SHP water polo teams pick up where they left off


The Sacred Heart Prep water polo teams have won seven Central Coast Section titles apiece, with the girls winning a record seven straight. The squads also have reached the section finals a combined 19 times since 2003.

According to the law of averages, one would think the Gators are due for an off year. One would think.

While the water polo season is just getting under way, it appears there may be no off year for either team this season.

The SHP boys opened their season on Wednesday with a 17-8 dunking of visiting Menlo-Atherton. Seniors Michael Swart and Nelson Perla-Ward combined for 14 goals, with Swart tallying a career-high 10.

The match was close until the Gators (1-0) exploded for seven goals in the second period and added six in the third.

The SHP girls, meanwhile, kicked off Wednesday's doubleheader with M-A by dunking the visiting Bears, 13-2.

Sophomores Layla Waters and Maddie Pendolino combined for nine goals as the Gators moved to 2-0 in coach Jon Burke's ninth season. Waters tallied five times and Pendolino had four goals while junior Malaika Koshy finished with two.

Despite losing 10 players to graduation, SHP appears ready to challenge for an eighth straight section title this season. One key area for the Gators is the goalie position, where senior Emily Riley is making her debut after Kelly Moran previously anchored that position.

SHP will get its first big test of the season this weekend at the St. Francis Autumn Invitational. The 16-team event will be play both at St. Francis and SHP.

The Gators will host Burlingame on Friday at 1 p.m., followed by Menlo-Atherton playing Leland at 1:50 p.m. and Palo Alto taking on Davis at 2:40 p.m. At St. Francis, Castilleja will open Friday against St. Francis of Sacramento at 1:50 p.m.

Second-round games will follow on Friday, with semifinals on Saturday at St. Francis at 11 a.m. and noon. The championship match will be in the Lancers' pool at 3 p.m.

The Gunn girls (2-1), meanwhile, will head to the Acalanes tournament after dropping a 6-3 nonleague decision to host St. Francis on Wednesday. Emily Fitzgerald scored twice for Gunn.

In the second half of a doubleheader at St. Francis, the Gunn boys dropped a 12-7 nonleague decision to the Lancers. Ari Wayne tallied three goals for Gunn (0-2) with fellow senior Christian Znidarsic adding two. Goalie Anthony Zunino came up with 11 saves.

In other water polo action Wednesday, the Menlo School girls opened their season with a 12-5 loss to host Woodside.

The Menlo boys will open their season on Friday, hosting St. Francis at 6 p.m.

Girls tennis

Sacred Heart Prep remained unbeaten by sweeping all four singles matches in a 4-3 nonleague victory over visiting Carlmont on Wednesday. Sarah Choy, Alison McLaughlin, Tara Ritchey and Melina Stavropoulos all won in straight sets while losing only a combined 12 points as the Gators improved to 3-0.

At Palo Alto, visiting Castilleja won its second straight by topping the host Vikings, 5-2. Celeste Woloshyn, Rosie Crisman and Julia McKay won in singles to give the Gators a solid start against Paly (1-2).

Girls volleyball

Castilleja junior Madeline Johnson provided 14 kills and Jennifer DiSanto chipped in with five aces to pace the Gators to a 25-8, 25-14, 25-15 nonleague victory over visiting Santa Clara on Wednesday. Castilleja moved to 3-4 on the year after compiling a 1-3 mark at the Spikefest I tournament during the weekend.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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