Fletcher Anderson was going to celebrate his first-year wedding anniversary last Saturday night, but he had a conflict. His Menlo-Atherton girls had a NorCal volleyball semifinal match against Pitman. So, the Bears presented him with another kind of gift, a victory.
"That was a great anniversary gift. I even told the girls that they were able to give us our best wedding anniversary ever," Anderson said.
The gift-giving continued on Tuesday night as the No. 3-seeded Bears upset top-seeded Monte Vista (Danville) in the CIF Northern California Division I title match and qualified for their first-ever appearance in the state finals.
Menlo-Atherton (27-7) handed the host Mustangs (34-6) a 25-23, 25-17, 25-18 defeat and will play SoCal champ and No. 4 Redondo Union (35-4) in the state championship match Saturday at Santiago Canyon College in Orange at 8 p.m.
The state finale will be streamed live.
Redondo Union, the defending state champion, eliminated No. 6 Trabuco Hills, 25-12, 25-19, 25-15 on Tuesday to earn a return trip to the finals. Redondo Union is ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 13 in the nation by MaxPreps while M-A is No. 29 in the state.
Menlo-Atherton, which lost three starters off last year's team that fell in the NorCal finals and finished 30-4, has six seniors this season. The Bears' lineup, however, is dominated by juniors.
One of those juniors, Jacqueline DiSanto, led the way Tuesday night with a team-leading 15 kills plus 14 digs. Fellow junior Kirby Knapp contributed 46 assists, with senior Leanna Collins a recipient of many of those sets while finishing with 14 kills. Junior Alexa Roumeliotis added 31 digs for M-A, which has seven juniors plus sophomore Lauren Heller.
There were 20 ties and and nine lead changes in the first set, with the largest deficit for either team being two points. It was tied at 23 before M-A junior Eliza Grover and senior Courtney Foliaki produced kills to secure the 25-23 win.
Monte Vista took a 6-1 lead in the second set before the Bears roared back to take nine of the next 13 points and go on to the victory.
The Mustangs were clearly frustrated after dropping the first two sets and that carried over into the third set. Monte Vista made three straight errors as M-A took a 5-3 lead and never lost it as Grover and Foliaki had big kills. Junior Kiana Sales clinched the triumph with a kill from the back row.