Not surprising, M-A remains unbeaten in PAL volleyball


Menlo-Atherton girls' volleyball coach Fletcher Anderson had a little surprise after the Bears beat host Aragon, 17-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-22, Tuesday in a PAL Bay Division match.

There would no practice Wednesday. They were going to do Yoga instead. Rejoice! Rejoice!

"That's the first time they've done something like that," M-A setter Kirby Knapp said. "It was really a surprise."

It was a nice gesture from the coaching staff during one of the toughest weeks of the regular season. The Bears (9-0, 15-4) still have to take on second-place Carlmont (7-2, 22-4) at home Thursday at 6:15 p.m. and then host St. Francis (18-8) in a nonleague match Friday at 5:15 p.m.

"Monday we talked about Aragon, Carlmont and St. Francis," Knapp said. "We stacked our schedule with WCAL schools because we want good competition. We're not taking Aragon and Carlmont lightly. because we want to win the PAL. We also want to work on our fundamentals."

The Bears emphasize their serving and passing game and those have become remarkably solid attributes. Aragon held leads in all four sets, but M-A just kept digging and passing and, ultimately, made fewer mistakes.

"We'd like to win points sooner but we can typically keep rallies going," Knapp said. "We're hoping to pick that up."

One thing that stood out in this match was how often both teams were able to get up over the net and block attacks.

It's not unusual in itself, but it's rare to find any team capable of maintaining blocks the way the Dons and Bears were able to do Tuesday night.

"Blocking is one of those things where you can do everything correctly and still not get a block," Anderson said. "We do emphasize winning the serve and passing game and we focus on trying to get better with every match."

Sophomore Alicia Letvin had an outstanding game at the net, whether it was her four solo blocks or combining with senior Eliza Grover, junior Lauren Heller or freshman Marit Hoyem to reject other Aragon spike attempts.

Senior Jacqueline DiSanto recorded team highs of 15 kills and 26 digs, had a block and for the heck of it, added 14 assists.

In WBAL Foothill action, Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep each won to stay within striking distance of first-place Notre Dame Belmont.

The Knights (4-1, 18-5) topped visiting Harker, 25-19, 25-19, 25-15, while the Gators (4-2, 16-7) downed visiting Notre Dame San Jose, 25-22, 26-24, 25-19.

The Tigers (6-0, 20-7), who had an easy time of it with host Mercy San Francisco, visits Menlo at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, with the league title on the line.

Selina Xu had an all-around solid effort for Menlo, with 12 kills, 11 digs and 20 assists. Jess Houghton (18) and Sianna Houghton (12) combined for 30 digs and both Ashley Dreyer and Grace King recorded eight kills.

The Gators, who visit Harker on Thursday, were led by Cate Desler, with 17 kills and 13 digs, Natalie Zimits with 11 kills, Rachel Cheung with 15 digs and 3 aces and Hailey Martella with 28 assists and 9 digs.

In WBAL Skyline play, unbeaten league-leader Mercy Burlingame swept host Pinewood (2-7, 4-10), 25-18, 25-9, 25-19, and Crystal Springs Uplands beat visiting Eastside College Prep (0-7, 2-11), 18-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-17.

On Thursday, Priory travels to King's Academy, Castilleja hosts Crystal Springs Uplands and Eastside College Prep hosts Pinewood, all with 5:45 p.m. starts.

Palo Alto survived a scare from host Mountain View in a SCVAL De Anza Division contest Tuesday.

The Vikings (8-0, 14-6) bounced back from a two-set deficit to squeeze past the Spartans, 16-25, 19-25, 25-18, 25-23, 17-15.

Paly hosts Los Gatos in a league match Thursday at Gunn at 6:45 p.m.

Gunn downed host Wilcox, 26-24, 25-22, 25-21, in a SCVAL El Camino Division match.

The win sets up Thursday's 5:45 p.m. showdown between the Titans (7-1, 13-11) and visiting Saratoga (6-1, 14-6) for control of the league race.

Boys water polo

Gunn can clinch the top seed for the upcoming SCVAL tournament with a victory at Homestead on Thursday. The Titans made it happen with a 12-6 victory over visiting Monta Vista on Tuesday.

Gunn (11-0, 13-4) has three matches remaining and is two games up on second-place Palo Alto (9-2, 12-9), which hosts Mountain View at Gunn on Thursday.

The Vikings beat winless Wilcox (0-11, 0-13), 13-9, as Eric Maser scored four goals and Tommy Smale added a pair.

Quinn Hamilton led Gunn with five goals, while Patrick Zhao and Jack Mallery each added a pair.

Girls water polo

Sabrina Hall scored five goals as Palo Alto defeated host Cupertino, 16-5, in a SCVAL De Anza Division match on Tuesday.

Sophie Frick added three goals for the Vikings (4-6, 7-10), who host Mountain View at Gunn at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Chesnie Cheung, a member of Team USA Synchro, Isabelle Taggart and Haley Chalmers each added a pair of goals.

Girls tennis

Menlo-Atherton stayed undefeated in PAL Bay Division play Tuesday, blanking host Burlingame, 7-0, with No. 3 singles Sofia Longo and No. 3 doubles Nia Zisman and Anushka Patnaik each earning lop-sided victories.

Julia Marks, Julia Chang and Sarah marks all won singles matches for the Bears (10-0, 13-5), who host Carlmont at 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the WBAL Foothill Division, Sacred Heart stayed on the heels of league-leading Menlo, as Melina Stravropoulos continued to perform at No. 1 singles in the absence of Sara Choy, the two-time defending CCS champion, who is 69-0 against high school competition.

The Gators (5-1, 11-3) downed host Crystal Springs Uplands, 7-0. Freshman Isa Robinson, who has played just about everywhere in the lineup, won at No. 2 singles, while Nathalie Rotenberg won at No. 3 singles.

Menlo (6-0, 9-6) topped visiting Harker, 6-1, for its 234th consecutive league victory, a streak that began in 1994. Elika Eshghi and Kathryn Wilson each won key singles.

Menlo hosts Pinewood (1-5, 4-10) on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. while Sacred Heart Prep travels to Castilleja.

Castilleja (3-3, 11-6) downed the Panthers, 6-1, at Rinconada Park with Wallis Hess, Simran Sandhu and Sophia Nesamoney scoring singles wins. Pinewood's Haley Matthews won at No. 2 singles.

In the SCVAL El Camino Division, Palo Alto edged host Mountain View, 4-3, getting big production from all three doubles teams.

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