A lot of good things happened in Castilleja's girls volleyball debut this season. Unfortunately, winning was not one of them.
“It was a good first game for us,” Gators coach Jacqueline Heler said. “We played with the lineup; we're not set on a starting six yet.”
The libero position is in good hands with senior Elle Kass, who recorded 30 digs in Castilleja's 25-22, 24-26, 25-19, 25-23 loss to host Fremont in Sunnyvale on Thursday night.
Sophomore outside hitter Alexis Stull also showed promise, accumulating nine kills, four blocks and three service aces. Kass also had three service aces.
While Kass displayed a steady hand throughout the contest, Stull's strong hitting action needs only to be harnessed. As she gains experience and strength, she'll become a solid weapon in the front row and at the serving line.
“The biggest thing for us is getting these good match-ups early in the season,” Heler said. “I liked how we responded to some of the runs they inflicted upon us. A couple got away.”
Castilleja made a few runs of its own. The Gators fell behind early in the first set and trailed by as many as five points. They fought back to even the set at 15 on a Kass ace and kept it close before Fremont nabbed the win.
The Gators were even more impressive in the second set. Working from behind most of the way, they caught fire and scored the final five points of the set to earn the victory.
Seniors Maddie McClellan and Ashley Hu, in particular, created opportunities for Stull and senior hitter Sam Gerber.
Castilleja held leads of 13-7 in the third set and 11-5 and 21-17 in the fourth set before Fremont went on runs.
The Gators will meet CCS powerhouse Presentation in the first round of Spikefest I at Independence High on Saturday morning.
In another nonleague opener, Menlo School defeated host Aragon, 23-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-14, in coach Marco Paglialunga's Knights' debut.
Senior Avanika Narayan won her match at No. 1 singles and Palo Alto downed host Aragon, 6-1, in the season opener for both teams.
The top doubles team of Meredith Cummings and Mailinh Truong were also victorious in straight sets.
Alexis Von Schottenstein scored in the 87th minute and Menlo College edged defending Cascade Collegiate Conference champion Carroll College, 1-0, in a nonconference match Thursday in Atherton.
Danielle Robinson battled for possession in the box, flicked it over to the far post, where Von Schottenstein buried it for the lone goal of the day. UC Merced and The Master’s University played to a scoreless draw in an earlier tournament game hosted by the Oaks.
Play in the Menlo Tournament concludes Saturday when The Master’s University and Carroll square off at 11 a.m. and the Oaks (2-0) and UC Merced take the field at 2 p.m.
All games will be available on the Menlo College Sports Network.