Menlo School girls upset in WBAL volleyball action


The Menlo School girls suffered their first loss in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) volleyball action as visiting Harker rallied from a 2-0 deficit to post a 24-26, 20-25, 25-22, 25-19, 15-13 victory on Tuesday night.

The loss dropped the Knights (5-1, 15-14) into a two-way tie for first place with Harker with Mercy-San Francisco third at 4-2.

Senior Elisa Merten led Menlo with 20 kills, 11 assists and 13 digs. Dea Dressel added 18 digs and nine kills, Jessica Houghton finished with 17 digs and eight kills while freshman libero Caroline Bradley added 37 digs and three aces and freshman Kristin Sellers added 31 assists and seven digs.

"We played well the first two sets," said Menlo coach Steve Cavella. "We had a big comeback in Game 1 after being down early. I thought Elisa Merten was really effective on offense. We also blocked and played great defense in the first two sets."

Then came Game 3.

"Our serve-receive passing broke down," Cavella explained. "Got into a 8-0 hole and had to fight back, but couldn't close the gap. Their offense also got going. One of their middle blockeers started getting kills on pretty much every ball she was set. There was definitely a change in momentum in Game 3 and that continued into Game 4.

"Game 5 was close, but they just played a little bit better than us. I thought we competed hard in the last set. They (Harker) just made a couple more plays."

Cavella, however, was proud of how his team battled throughout the match.

"Harker was just a little bit better today," he said.

Menlo has four matches remaining in the regular season, starting with a road match against rival Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

The Gators are coming off a 25-20, 25-17, 25-20 loss to host Mercy-San Francisco (4-2) on Tuesday. The Gators (2-4, 15-10) got nine kills and 13 assists from Lilika Teu, nine kills from Cate Desler, 15 assists and 11 digs from Natalie Marshall and 12 digs from libero Jorden Schreeder. SHP again played without injured Victoria Garrick.

In Palo Alto, Castilleja got its first WBAL Foothill Division win at the expense of Notre Dame-San Jose, 25-23, 25-12, 25-15. The Gators (1-5, 13-16) got 15 kills from senior Sarah rose and 13 from junior Madeline Johnson. Sophomore Elle Kass contributed 22 digs with senior Jennifer DiSanto adding 12.

In the WBAL Skyline Division, host Pinewood remained among the leaders with a 25-18, 25-10, 25-15 win over Eastside Prep. Pinewood (4-2, 12-6) was led by Mehra den Braven's 11 kills and five aces.

In Portola Valley, Priory came off a 10-day layoff and showed some rustiness in a 25-16, 25-11, 25-10 loss to Mercy-Burlingame.

In the PAL Bay Division, host Menlo-Atherton served up 11 aces on its way to a 25-15, 25-9, 25-17 victory over Hillsdale. The Bears (9-0, 20-3) moved closer to defending their division title by hitting .410 as a team.

Sophomore setter Kirby Knapp had 33 assists and nine digs plus two aces while senior Devin Joos provided 12 kills and seven digs. Leanna Collins had 13 kills with only one hitting error in 19 attempts for a .630 hitting percentage. Elizer Grover had three blocks with Jackie DiSanto and Kaitlin Tavarez adding seven kills each for M-A.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn (3-5, 15-10) fell to host Homestead, 30-28, 25-15, 25-17.

Palo Alto, meanwhile, had a bye.

Cross country

With Gillian Meeks setting a course record for juniors, the Gunn girls ran to the team title at the third SCVAL meet of the season. Meeks clocked 17:54.9 on the 3.1-mile course at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale to lead the Titans to 53 points and a win over Los Gatos (66).

Emily Aiken was fourth for Gunn in 18:54 and Illi Gardner was ninth in 19:15.3. Freshman Emma Chiao was 16th (20:32.5) and Maya Miklos 23rd (20:59).

Palo Alto was ninth with Bryn Carlson clocking 21:43.8 for 37th place.

In the boys' race, Palo Alto was fourth with 123 points and Gunn seventh with 142. Sophomore Naveen Pai led the Vikings with a seventh-place finish of 16:46.9. He had the top sophomore time of the day. Jonas Enders led Gunn while running 16th in 17:19.4.

Girls golf

Castilleja earned no worse than a share of first place in the WBAL following a 223-264 victory over Mercy-Burlingame at Shoreline Golf Links in Mountain View. The Gators (8-2) were led by senior Danielle Mitchell's 1-over 37. Senior Chloe Sales shot 42 and freshman Anika Tse added a 46.

In Los Gatos, Gunn moved to within a victory of wrapping up a perfect season in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League by handing Los Gatos a 214-239 dual-match loss on Tuesday at La Rinconada Country Club. Gunn senior Anna Zhou led the way with a 1-over 37 as the Titans moved to 13-0 in league (14-1 overall). Lydia Tsai (42), Tiffany Yang (43), Lianna McFarlane-Connelly (45) and Sabrina Chen (47) wrapped up the scoring for Gunn, which plays host to Monta Vista on Thursday at Palo Alto Hills G&CC.

Girls tennis

Menlo School moved to within a victory of clinching no worse than a tie for its 19th straight league title under coach Bill Shine by blanking visiting Crystal Springs, 7-0, in WBAL Foothill Division action Tuesday.

The Knights moved to 7-0 in league and 13-4 overall with three league matches remaining. Sacred Heart Prep remains in second place with a 5-2 mark.

Menlo stretched its ongoing state record for consecutive league dual-match wins to 215 as the Knights swept every match in straight sets. Alice Yao led the way at No. 1 with a 6-0, 6-0 victory.

Castilleja helped Menlo move closer to clinching by handing visiting Sacred Heart Prep a 5-2 loss at Rinconada Park. SHP (5-2, 13-4) did win the first two singles matches behind Sarah Choy and Melina Stavropoulos, but Castilleja (3-3, 7-7) got four victories from seniors to pull the victory while avenging an earlier loss to SHP. Rosie Crisman clinched the win with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Lauren Trihy at No. 3 singles.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton clinched no worst than a tie for the league title with a 6-1 victory over host Burlingame. The Bears improved to 12-0 in the division (14-6 overall) and grabbed a two-match lead over second-place Carlmont, which suffered a 4-3 loss to San Mateo.

Menlo-Atherton can win the title outrigtht by beating visiting Carlmont on Thursday at 3:45 p.m.

The Bears continued their run through the PAL with three straight-set victories in singles. Freshman Lanie Van Linge led the way at No. 1 (6-0, 6-0) with Sami Andrew (6-2,, 6-1) and Laila Volpe (6-2, 6-4) following suit at No. 2 and 3. The only match to go to three sets was at No. 2 doubles, where Sally Carlson and Amelia Tiemann of M-A prevailed, 4-6, 6-3, 10-2.

Ina the SCVAL El Camino Division, Palo Alto (10-0, 13-4) clinched no worse than a tie for the league title with a 6-1 victory over host Fremont. The Vikings can win the division title outright by beating visiting Santa Clara on Thursday.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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