Sports

Gunn water polo teams finish off historic 12-0 league seasons

 

The Gunn girls and boys teamed up to make some history on the final day of the regular season in water polo as both finished off 12-0 seasons in the SCVAL De Anza Division.

The boys (14-6 overall) wrapped up their second straight perfect division season under second-year head coach Matt Johnson with a 12-6 triumph over host Palo Alto on Thursday.

The girls (17-3 overall) finished off their first-ever 12-0 water polo season in the division with a 7-2 victory over host Palo Alto on Thursday.

"This was a historic game for us," said Gunn coach Mark Hernandez. "We had clinched the regular-season title on Tuesday but, especially with the NorCal tournament coming up (Friday and Saturday), we wanted to play well; and we wanted to win."

Gunn did just that as Bianca Batista scored two of her three goals early on, sandwiched around one by fellow senior Kiley Lin, and the Titans had a 3-0 lead. Paly (6-6, 9-11) trimmed it to 3-1 just before halftime on a goal by junior Alina Drebin.

Senior Nia Gardner scored three goals in the second half as the Titans pulled away after a goal by Paly senior Tess van Hulsen made it a 3-2 game. The win gave Gunn a fourth straight regular-season league title. Gunn is 45-3 during that time.

"After the game, multiple parents came up to me and told me that I was more animated than usual tonight," said Hernandez, who leaped into the air on at least one occasion. "And, of course, that makes sense; all the conditions led to an emotional game: Palo Alto's Senior Night, the end of our Homecoming Week, a raucous crowd, the chance to make history.

"But, I will say, it was especially rewarding to go 12-0 with this group, one which features five new starters this year. We've been through a lot together, and had to overcome a lot of obstacles. Nothing's been given to this group, and nothing's been easy. But, at every juncture they've risen to every the challenge. We know we still have work to do, but we're proud of the work we've done."

Gunn will tune up for next week's league playoffs by taking on some of the best teams at the Northern California Championships. The Titans open Friday against Miramonte at Menlo-Atherton High at 2:10. Miramonte was the only team to beat Gunn in this tourney last year.

The Gunn boys, meanwhile, will be busy at the Memorial Cup this weekend -- hosted by Bellarmine and the Titans.

That's not much time to celebrate a second straight perfect league season under Johnson, who now holds a 5-1 record over his brother, Paly coach Brandon, in two seasons.

Gunn senior Ari Wayne led the way with three goals with two each coming from Quinn Hamilton, Christian Znidarsic, Justin Cooper and Calder Hilde-Jones. Senior goalie Anthony Zunino once again was solid in the cage.

Winston Rosati and Lucas Novak each scored twice for Palo Alto.

In Atherton, Menlo School made its final tuneup for next week's Peninsula Athletic League playoffs by dropping a 12-11 nonleague decision to Coronado on Thursday evening. Andreas Katsis led the Knights (18-6) with six goals with fellow senior Nick Bisconti adding three. Despite the loss, Menlo holds a 5-3 advantage in the series.

Spencer Witte had 10 saves in goal during the teams' annual meeting. Menlo coach Jack Bowen played at Coronado and has made a tradition of hosting his old team, which is in the Bay Area for the annual Memorial Cup. In the summer, Menlo visits Coronado and stays with the players' families. The teams train together, culminating with the Knights annual Navy Seal workout.

Girls tennis

Menlo School put the finishing touches on its 19th straight unbeaten league season under head coach Bill Shine with a 6-1 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep to wrap up the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) dual-match season.

The Knights finished 10-0 in league and now have won 218 straight league dual matches since 1994, an ongoing state record. The only loss for the Knights (16-4) against SHP (7-3, 15-6) on the Gators' Senior Day came at No. 1 singles where freshman Sarah Choy defeated Menlo senior Elizabeth Yao, the defending CCS singles champ, 6-2, 6-2.

In Cupertino, Palo Alto put the finishing touches on a 12-0 season in the SCVAL El Camino Division with a 5-2 triumph over the host Pioneers. The Vikings (16-4 overall) had clinched the division title last week, but needed to win Thursday to compete its second perfect season in the El Camino in two appearances.

Girls volleyball

Menlo-Atherton clinched no worse than a tie for the PAL Bay Division title with a 25-6, 25-11, 25-7 win over host South San Francisco on Thursday. The Bears are 12-0 in league (23-3 overall) and hold a two-match lead over Burlingame (10-2) with two matches to play. M-A can win the title outright by beating visiting Sequoia on Tuesday.

Against South City, sophomore Kirby Knapp had 31 assists, Leanna Collins finished with 14 kills while Devin Joos, Kaitlin Tavarez and Alexa Roumeliotis each had nine digs in the quick outing. The Bears hit .410 as a team with only seven hitting errors in 68 attempts. The M-A defense had no errors with its digging

In Belmont, Sacred Heart Prep dropped a 25-22, 25-20, 25-19 nonleague match to host Notre Dame-Belmont. The Gators (16-12) were led by Cate Desler's 12 kills, 11 kills and eight digs by Lilika Teu, Natalie Marshall's 27 assists and Mamie Caruso's 15 digs.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto dropped its sixth match in the past seven outings, a 25-19, 25-18, 25-21, decision to visiting Los Gatos. Paly (2-8, 16-11) was led by Jade Schoenberger's 11 kills, eight digs and three blocks. Fellow senior Anna Dukovic added 12 digs and seven kills with sophomore setter Jessica Lee contributing 20 assists.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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