Sports


It's always 'Green-er' on the Palo Alto side of the net

 

Fiona Green recorded seven of her 13 kills in the fourth set and the Palo Alto girls' volleyball team clinched at least a share of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division title, beating host Homestead, 25-14, 25-17, 26-28, 25-17, on Tuesday night.

Chelsea Fan added 22 kills for the Vikings (9-1, 16-7), who have a bye on Thursday. Sophomore middle blocker Siena Brewster was in on five blocks and added three kills. Freshman Amelia Gibbs had four blocks, including one solo.

“The setting was consistent and the passing was consistent,” Green said of her big fourth set. “I think we've all stepped up this year.”

Palo Alto earned at least a share of the title for the first time since 2012, when the Vikings shared the title with the Mustangs.

Homestead, a team with one senior listed on the roster, also knocked the Vikings out of the Central Coast Section playoffs in three of the past four years.

For the seniors, Jekara Wilson was their third coach in three years and having her return this season helped stabilize the program and started moving it forward again.

“Even though I've been with the program a long time, there's definitely a difference,” said Wilson, who has served as junior varsity coach. “We went out on a high note last year, losing a tough in five sets to San Benito.”

After finishing 24-21 (.533 winning percentage) last year, the Vikings are winning at a .588 pace thus far. With two matches remaining, Palo Alto also has a chance to finish with their best league record since the state championship team of 2011 went undefeated in SCVAL play.

“We definitely want to keep up the tradition of success,” Green said. “There's some pressure there, but also some motivation. We plan to do a little better this year, get farther into the postseason.”

Wilson, even before the season started, believed the team could uproot two-time defending league Los Altos.

“I knew there was talent on this team,” she said. “I knew the players and what they could do.”

Palo Alto lost its first three matches, the longest losing streak of the year, and then went on a six-match win streak.

The 5-foot-7 Fan, a junior outside hitter, has been an important piece of the puzzle for the Vikings. She recorded 20-plus kills in a match for the third time and is over 200 kills. She's also the team leader in digs with over 200.

Fan, who would be a major college prospect if she could somehow add about five or six inches to her height, packs a powerful punch and is one of the top attackers in the area from beyond the 10-foot line.

“It's that vertical leap,” said Wilson. Simple enough.

In the West Bay Athletic League Foothill Division, host Sacred Heart Prep turned the tables on Menlo School, beating the Knights, 23-25, 25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 15-7, in front of a packed gymnasium Tuesday night.

The Gators (6-2, 17-7) moved into sole possession of second place, behind league-leader Notre Dame, with two league matches remaining. SH Prep hosts Mercy San Francisco next Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.

Menlo (4-3, 18-7) has three matches left, beginning with Tuesday's 5:45 p.m. contest against visiting Notre Dame San Jose.

Ally Polverari led the Gators with 13 kills and Cate Desler added 1 kills to go with 11 digs. Natalie Zimits had seven blocks to go with with eight kills and Hailey Martella added 14 digs to go with 25 assists.

The Knights took the first set, and then bounced back in Game 4 to tie it before Sacred Heart Prep took care of things in the fifth.

Menlo junior Kristin Sellers posted a team-high nine kills, and had 11 digs and 24 assists.

Sophomore Selina Xu and junior Ashley Dreyer each had eight kills, and Xu added 26 assists. Menlo sophomore Sianna Houghton recorded 19 digs and senior Jess Houghton had 18

In the WBAL Skyline Division, Castilleja (5-4, 14-12) moved into a tie for third with Crystal Springs Uplands heading into Tuesday's 5:45 p.m. match with visiting Pinewood.

The Panthers (3-6, 8-11) host Priory (1-9 in the WBAL) on Thursday at 5:45 p.m.

Eastside College Prep (1-8) hosts league leader Mercy Burlingame at 5:45 p.m. Wednesday.

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