Chloe Ebrahimian never considered the possibility of reaching the Central Coast Section girls water polo tournament. That is, until Tuesday.
Ebrahimian scored four goals and recorded two assists and host Menlo School beat Aragon, 14-10, in the first round of the PAL tournament, which also doubled as a CCS play-in game. The Knights (11-7) qualified for their first CCS tournament since 2010.
“I didn't consider it because I didn't think there was a possibility,” said Ebrahimian, the lone senior on the team. “I'm glad today was my last game in this pool.”
Menlo advances into Thursday's semifinal at Menlo-Atherton, where they will meet regular-season champion Castilleja at 2:45 p.m.
First-year coach Alana Burgess never made reaching the CCS tournament a priority and never talked about it, not even in the days leading up to Tuesday's contest.
“We were in a unique position to go out and win one game,” Burgess said. “It's a very young team and we did have a goal but we never expected it. I think they came in a little bit calmer.”
As the only senior and four-year varsity player, Ebrahimian felt a responsibility to nurture her younger teammates.
“Having the experience, I was able to channel that with the younger girls,” Ebrahimian said. “We bonded with each other and became a close-knit group. Our focus was on the freshmen, who are hungry to learn and passionate about the sport.”
Menlo took a comfortable, 8-3, lead by halftime after breaking out with six goals in the second quarter.
Annie Bisconti added three goals and two assists, while Sophie Golub and Mia Rosenblatt each added a pair of goals. For good measure, Parker Callender, Sarah Donato and Meg Reinstra each added a goal. Reinstra also had three assists.
Menlo-Atherton (13-8) gets a rematch with Woodside in the other semifinal. The Wildcats beat M-A in overtime in their regular-season game.
On the boys side, Menlo advanced with a lopsided victory over Mills at Hillsdale on Tuesday. The Knights meet either Burlingame or Carlmont in Thursday's :45 p.m. semifinal at M-A.
The Bears (11-12) take on Half Moon Bay in another semifinal at 4 p.m. The Cougars advanced with a 12-6 win over Hillsdale.
In the SCVAL tournament, regular-season champ Gunn blasted Wilcox, 20-6, on Tuesday at Los Altos High and will meet the host Eagles, 11-7 winners over Homestead, on Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
The results of the Palo Alto-Mountain View and Los Gatos-Monta Vista matches were not immediately available. The Vikings and Wildcats were overwhelming favorites to advance.
The SCVAL girls tournament gets under way Thursday at Gunn. Palo Alto and Los Altos meet at 4:20 p.m. and Gunn plays Fremont at 5:40 p.m.
Quinn Hamilton scored eight goals to lead the Titans (18-7) past the Chargers. Lucas Batista added five goals and Aaron Babian had three.
Menlo-Atherton remained undefeated in PAL Bay Division play with a 25-14, 25-9, 25-23 victory over host Terra Nova.
The Bears (13-0, 25-4) have won 24 consecutive matches heading into their final regular-season match at Burlingame at 6:15 p.m. Thursday.
Eliza Grover slammed home 18 kills on 25 errorless attack for a .720 hitting percentage. She's hitting .359 for the season and has 339 kills, three more than fellow senior Jacqueline DiSanto, who added 12 against the Tigers.
Two other players have recorded at least 100 kills: Lauren Heller with 122 and Kiana Sales with 102. Freshman Marit Hoyem will join the group with her next kill and Alicia Letvin may not be far behind.
DiSanto added six aces to her team-leading total of 59. Letvin and Chloe Johnson each added a pair. Kirby Knapp had 21 assists and 10 digs. Sales added 11 digs.
In the West Bay Athletic League Foothill Division, Sacred Heart Prep (7-2, 22-7) topped visiting Mercy-San Francisco, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22, on Tuesday.
The Gators finish the regular season with a home match against league champion Notre Dame-Belmont on Thursday.
Natalie Zimits led the way with 14 kills and four blocks, while Cate Desler added 11 kills and Caroline Caruso had 13 digs. Haley Martella contributed 20 assists.
Menlo School defeated visiting Notre Dame-San Jose, 25-16, 25-14, 22-25, 25-19.
The Knights improve to 19-7 overall and 5-3 in league; they finish the regular season with matches Thursday against Mercy in San Francisco and Notre Dame in San Jose on Friday.
Against the Regents on Senior Night, Menlo got big contributions from several seniors, including Mia Vandermeer (nine kills, .591 hitting percentage, and four blocks). Dea Dressel also had nine kills and hit .563 while libero Jessica Houghton had 29 digs.
Sophomore Selina Xu picked up nine kills, five aces and 24 assists for the Knights. Juniors Kristin Sellers had 23 assists, Caroline Bradley 17 digs, and Ashley Dreyer added nine kills.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (10-1, 20-9) swept visiting Lynbrook at Gunn.
In the El Camino Division, Gunn (10-2, 16-13) beat host Santa Clara, 25-13, 25-19, 25-22, as Tara Tracy netted 16 kills on a .520 hitting percentage and Amy Wang added 10 kills and five aces.
Emma Munch had 11 digs while Iris Huang and Lynette Xu combined for all 33 of Gunn's assists.