The Gunn boys and girls made some water polo history this season by both going 12-0 in the SCVAL De Anza Division during the regular season.
The teams added to their recent historic achievements on Saturday by winning their quarterfinals matches in the Central Coast Section Division I playoffs and advancing to the semifinals for the first time together.
The Gunn girls did just that last year but the boys were eliminated by rival Palo Alto. On Saturday at Menlo-Atherton High and in back-to-back matches, the Titans' water polo program took another step forward.
The No. 4-seeded boys advanced with an 11-5 victory over No. 5 Leland after the No. 2 girls moved on with a 5-2 win over No. 10 Palo Alto.
"That's how Gunn games go," said Gunn girls' coach Mark Hernandez. "We played really good defense, we called two timeouts and scored on both of them . . . that's our style; that's how we do it."
In a typical Gunn performance dominated by the defense, the Titans (21-6) scored just enough to get the job done while beating the Vikings (15-16) for the third time this season.
The teams battled to a scoreless first period before Gunn took advantage of a man advantage and got a goal from senior Nia Gardner. Bianca Batista followed a short while later, despite being double-teamed, to make it 2-0 just before the half, which ended with Paly's Katie Francis hitting the cage with a hard shot.
Paly got to within one in the third period when Olivia Scola connected from long range, but Gunn freshman Zoe Banks countered when she took control of a tipped ball and fired it in for a 3-1 lead.
Batista scored from the hole set in the fourth period for a 4-1 lead before Gunn coach Mark Hernandez called time late in the period to set up a play. The ball went to senior Jacqueline Comiter in the left corner and Gardner slipped behind the Paly defense, too a nice lob and touched it in for a 5-1 lead.
A late goal by Paly's Gigi Rojahn brought the Vikings closer. Rojahn is one of only four Paly seniors, of which only two are starters. The other, leading scorer Tess van Hulsen, was kept off the scoreboard by Gunn's solid defensive effort.
While Paly returns 10 players, Gunn will lose 10 -- nearly its entire starting lineup. Then again, the Titans only returned two starters this season.
"We had to relearn everything this year," said Hernandez. "Caroline (Anderson) was so much a part of the offense last year. We lost five starters."
The newcomers stepped up and senior goalie Sam Acker raised the level of her game as the Titans won with solid defense and just enough offense. Acker came up with 10 saves on Saturday while Gardner and Batista had two goals each.
Next up for Gunn will be No. 3 Leland (15-12) in the semifinals. The Chargers knocked off No. 6 Los Altos (10-14) in sudden-death overtime, 6-5. Also advancing was No. 5 Los Gatos (24-5) and No. 1 St. Francis (19-8), which eliminated No. 9 Menlo-Atherton (13-14) by a 13-1 count.
Division II girls
Third-seeded Castilleja (19-5) moved closer to reaching the finals for the second straight year by holding off No. 6 Pioneer, 7-4, in a quarterfinal at Sacred Heart Prep. Senior Anna Yu led the way with three goals with Maddie Macdonald adding two. Jenna Kotcher and Celia Aldrete contributed a goal each while goalie Maddie Tarr stopped eight shots.
The Gators will face No. 2 Soquel (23-3) in the semifinals. Also advancing were No. 5 Willow Glen and No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (21-6), which rolled to a 16-4 win over No. 9 Saratoga as junior Malaika Koshy had six goals, junior Layla Waters added three while sophomores Maddy Johnston and Maddie Pendolino each tallied three each.
Division I boys
Fourth-seeded Gunn (17-10) moved on to the semifinals with its win over Leland and will face De Anza Division rival Mountain View, which upset top-seeded Menlo-Atherton, 10-8.
The Titans already have beaten the Spartans twice this season. The winner will get either No. 2 St. Francis or No. 3 Bellarmine in the finals on Nov. 22 at Independence High in San Jose.
Gunn broke away from a 2-2 first quarter by scoring four times in the second and four more in the fourth. Senior Ari Waye and junior Calder Hilde-Jones each scored three times. Justin Cooper and Jared Gencarella each tallied twice.
Division II boys
Second-seeded Menlo School and top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep moved a step closer to a rematch of last year's championship game with solid victories on Saturday at SHP.
The host Gators (23-4) jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead and coasted to a 15-1 win over No. 8 Willow Glen (16-11). Nelson Perla-Ward led the way with four goals while fellow senior Michael Swart added three.
Menlo School (22-6) moved on to the semifinals with an 18-8 dunking of No. 7 Santa Cruz. Senior Andreas Katsis led the way with three goals with Nikhil Bhatia, James Thygesen, Chris Xi and Weston Avery adding two each.
The Knights came out early and asserted themselves with an 11-4 halftime lead. They had goals from 12 different players, while Xi led the team in assists with five.
"This team is playing exceptionally well together right now," said Menlo head coach Jack Bowen. "We've carried the momentum over from last week's (PAL) league championship tournament victory over Menlo Atherton and have focused on showing up every day at our training with maximum intensity and maximum heart."
Menlo will meet No. 3 Soquel (19-7) in one semifinal while Sacred Heart Prep will take on No. 4 St. Ignatius (15-8).
2014 CCS BOYS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
Salinas 13, Los Gatos 8
Monta Vista 12, Wilcox 7
Salinas 10, Palo Alto 9
Mountain View 15, Monta Vista 8
Bellarmine 24, Serra 10
St. Francis 11, Salinas 4
Gunn 11, Leland 5
Mountain View 10, Menlo-Atherton 8
At Bellarmine Prep
No. 4 Gunn (17-10) vs. No. 8 Mountain View (18-10), 5:30 p.m.
No. 2 St. Francis (16-10) vs. No. 3 Bellarmine (15-13), 7 p.m.
Burlingame 21, Sobrato 10
Pioneer 10, Mills 5
Willow Glen 19, R.L. Stevenson 5
Santa Cruz 19, Burlingame 12
Willow Glen 10, Pioneer 9
Soquel 16, Valley Christian 7
Menlo School 18, Santa Cruz 8
St. Ignatius 10, Carmel 5
Sacred Heart Prep 15, Willow Glen 1
At Bellarmine Prep
No. 2 Menlo School (22-6) vs. No. 3 Soquel (19-7), 5:30 p.m.
No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (23-4) vs. No. 4 St. Ignatius (15-8), 7 p.m.
2014 CCS GIRLS WATER POLO PLAYOFFS
Menlo-Atherton 11, No. 12 Lynbrook 1
Palo Alto 12, No. 11 Woodside 7
Palo Alto 9, Carlmont 8
Menlo-Atherton 5, San Benito 2
Leland 6, Los Altos 5 (sudden death)
Gunn 5, Palo Alto 2
Los Gatos 8, Mitty 4
St. Francis 13, Menlo-Atherton 1
At Gunn High
No. 1 St. Francis (19-8) vs. No. 5 Los Gatos (24-5), 5:30 p.m.
No. 2 Gunn (21-6) vs. No. 3 Leland (15-12), 7 p.m.
Saratoga 7, No. 12 R.L. Stevenson 4
Santa Catalina 9, No. 10 Valley Christian 8
Sobrato 9, Santa Catalina 6
Saratoga 5, St. Ignatius 3
Castilleja 7, Pioneer 4
Soquel 14, Sobrato 3
Willow Glen 11, Presentation 9
Sacred Heart Prep 16, Saratoga 4
At Gunn High
No. 2 Soquel (23-3) vs. No. 3 Castilleja 19-5), 5:30 p.m.
No. 1 Sacred Heart Prep (21-6) vs. No. 5 Willow Glen (13-5), 7 p.m.