The Menlo School girls pulled off a marathon volleyball victory over visiting Sacred Heart Cathedral on Tuesday night by rallying for a 25-19, 15-25, 18-25, 28-26, 24-22 nonleague triumph.
The Knights (11-4), coming off a second-place finish in their own Chris Chandler Invitational on Saturday, were led by senior Maddie Stewart's 12 kills and 22 digs.
"I was really proud of the team's effort tonight. The team performed really well," Menlo coach Steve Cavella said.
Ashley Dreyer came in during the fourth game and contributed immediately with five kills, and she and Mia Vandermeer each added a pair of blocks. In the epic fifth set, SHC took a 10-7 lead before the Knights rallied with five match points and went on to close out the match.
"The fifth set seemed like the longest set of the match," Cavella said. "Both teams played really well and the rallies seemed to last forever. Payton Mack really stepped up in the fifth set with four kills on seven attempts. Kristin Sellers had some clever second-contact attacks that scored some important point for us and Jessica Houghton had some great digs."
Freshman Sianna Houghton added 10 kills and 17 digs with Sellers providing 27 assists and Selina Xu adding 18. Payton Mack came up with six blocks and nine kills for Menlo against the Irish (11-3), who finished second in the CCS Division III playoffs last season.
The Knights started strong, taking the first set.
"Our offense was running very smoothly," Cavella said. "I thought Selina Xu did a good job of getting everyone involved in the offense. Maddie Stewart and Mia Vandermeer hit really well."
Then the momentum shifted in the next two games as the Irish adjusted to the Knights' attack.
"Sacred Heart Cathedral is a very good defensive team. They started picking up a lot of our shots and improved their blocking," Cavella said. "They also put more pressure on us with their serving. It had a big impact on our offense. I thought we competed hard in set 2 and set 3.
The Knights made some adjustments of their own in Game 4.
"Ashley Dreyer came off the bench and had an instant impact with three kills and a block in the fourth game," Cavella added. "Caroline Bradley played well at libero (15 digs) and her defense was superb. Sianna Houghton and Maddie Stewart both hit well and Kristin Sellers had 16 assists in the fourth game."
Jessica Houghton had 19 digs as the Knights prepared for a nonleague match on Friday against visiting Menlo-Atherton at 6 p.m. The teams met in the finals of the Chandler Invitational with the Bears winning in three sets.
In Saratoga, Sacred Heart Prep continued its winning ways with a 25-20, 25-11, 25-16 nonlegue triumph over the host Falcons. Cate Desler led the Gators (11-4) with 12 kills and four blocks with Lilika Teu providing 23 assists and 12 digs. Natalie Zimits came up with six kills and five blocks, Rachel Cheung served 10 aces and Jorden Schreeder had 14 digs from her libero position.
In Mountain View, Palo Alto opened its SCVAL De Anza Division season in a big way by defeating host Mountain View and former Paly coach Dave Winn, 25-17, 25-18, 20-25, 18-25, 15-8. The Vikings (1-0, 12-3) held the Spartans to .180 hitting while overcoming 20 kills by Mountain View's Chanti Holroyd.
In Palo Alto, Castilleja fell to 4-12 overall following a 25-20, 25-17, 27-25 loss to visiting Mercy-Burlingame. Madeline Johnson had 10 kills with no errors and hit .370 with 20 digs. Gwen Cusing added 14 digs and six kills, Sam Gerber finished with six kills, Becca Mak had 18 digs and Ashley Hu contributed 15 digs.
In Atherton, Menlo-Atherton opened defense of its PAL Bay Division title with a 25-8, 25-17, 25-17 romp over Mills. Leanna Collins led the Bears (1-0, 6-3) with 13 kills.
Palo Alto remained within reach of first-place Gunn in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League race following a 208-222 dual-match win over host Saratoga at the par-34 Saratoga Country Club.
Stephanie Yu birdied the opening hole and earned medalist honors with a 3-over 37 to pace the Vikings (2-1-1, 3-1-1). Emily Hwang added a 38, Celia Willner birdied the sixth hole on the way to a 42, Candace Wang birdied the first and shot 44, with Elise Kiya and Jasmine Choi each shooting 47s.
Meanwhile, Gunn maintained its hold on first place with a 211-215 win over Lynbrook at Palo Alto Muni. Isha Mohan and Lucy Lamb each shot 41 with Lydia Tsai (42), Tiffany Yang (43) and Sabrina Chen (44) rounding out the scoring for the Titans (5-0-1).
Menlo-Atherton remained perfect and atop the PAL Bay Division standings with a 7-0 dual-match victory over host Burlingame. Lanie Van Linge paced the Bears (4-0, 6-2) with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 1 singles. The M-A doubles teams of Julia Chang-Sally Carlson, Beata Brenner-Amanda Scandalios and Laura Kirk-Libby Kirk combined to lose just four games while sweeping.
In Palo Alto, host Gunn swept the singles on the way to a 6-1 victory over Mountain View in SCVAL El Camino Division action. Julia Pham, Anna Yu, Olivia Aspegren and Yarden Gaffan all won in straight sets as the Titans moved to 2-1 in league (4-1 overall).
Boys water polo
With Calder Hilde-Jones scoring eight goals and Christian Znidarsic adding five, the Gunn boys rolled to a 16-7 victory over visiting Monta Vista in SCVAL De Anza Division water polo action on Tuesday.
The Titans moved to 2-0 in league and 5-4 overall heading into Thursday's showdown with Palo Alto in the Titans' pool at 3:30 p.m.
Girls water polo
Palo Alto tuned up for Thursday's showdown against defending SCVAL De Anza Division champ Gunn by posting a 5-4 victory over host Mountain View. Sophie Frick and Gigi Rojahn each tallied a pair of goals for the Vikings (2-1, 7-3).
Gunn (2-0, 4-1) maintained its perfect league season with a 14-1 romp over visiting Saratoga. Mikaela Wayne led the Titans with four goals with Janis Iourovitski and Syliva Illouz each tallying three times.
In Redwood City, sophomore Parker Callendar tossed in three goals to pace Menlo School to a 6-4 win over host Sequoia in PAL Ocean Division action. Sophomores Sarah Donato and Jane Zafran added one goal apiece as did senior Anna Miller while sophomore goalie Gillian Bressie had nine saves.