Sports

Bears in DI, Knights and Gators in DIV win first round matches

 

The top-seeded Menlo-Atherton High's girls volleyball team made quick work of its first round NorCal Division I regional opponent, visiting Skyline-Oakland, 25-6, 25-4, 25-7, Wednesday night.

The Bears (27-5) host No. 8 Tracy (36-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday in the regional semifinal. The Bulldogs beat Central Coast Section Division I champion Los Gatos, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19.


Jessica Lee.
Palo Alto lost to host Turlock, 25-20, 25-22, 25-23, in another Division I match. The Vikings (23-11) lost to Los Gatos in the CCS final while Turlock (27-11) won the Sac-Joaquin Division I title, beating Tracy in the final.

The Bulldogs and M-A each played Gregori during the regular season, with Tracy winning twice and the Bears winning their only meeting.

In Division IV, Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep both advanced. The Knights (21-8) beat visiting Bear River, 25-15, 25-13, 25-14. The Gators (25-11) took care of visiting Bret Harte, 25-21, 23-25, 25-17, 25-20.

Top-seeded Menlo hosts Cardinal Newman (28-9) at 7 p.m. Saturday. Cardinal Newman beat West Valley in three sets.

No. 3 Sacred Heart Prep hosts St. Joseph's Notre Dame, also at 7 p.m. Saturday. The Pilots (28-10) needed five sets to get by Willow.

Jacqueline DiSanto led the Bears with eight kills, seven aces and a hitting percentage of .462. Eliza Grover added six kills on eight swings for a .625 hitting percentage and sophomore Alicia Letvin had five kills and a .400 hitting percentage.

M-A, looking to reach the state finals for a second straight year, had 28 kills as a team in addition to 21 aces. Seniors Kiana Sales and Casey Olsen each added four aces.

Skyline-Oakland had trouble returning the ball as the Bears hit .396 and recorded just 19 digs without a defensive error. Sophomore Erica Fischer had a team-high five digs.

On paper, M-A and Tracy are fairly even. Each average about the same number of kills per set, while the Bulldogs have an advantage in aces and the Bears owning an edge in digs.

Tracy senior Hannah Presley leads the team in both kills and blocks and 10 in its win over the Wildcats. Sophomore Cassie Corbett added 11 kills.

The Bears enter the match ranked 92nd in the nation by maxpreps, 19th in California and fifth in the section.

Palo Alto seniors Jessica Lee, Katie Passarello, Cassandra Fong and Fiona Green helped the Vikings to their best season since 2013.

Second-year coach Jekara Wilson returns a solid nucleus in juniors Chelsea Fan, who led the team in kills this year, Isabella Marcus, who led the team in blocks and with a .311 hitting percentage, Tanli Su, one of the top servers, setters and defensive specialists, and Susanna Limb, who was second on the team with 36 aces.

Sophomore Siena Brewster will step into a more significant role in the front line. Juniors Michelle Li, Hannah Darby, Madeline McNee, Avery Wooten and Denise Ringwalt and underclassmen Ashlyn Callan and Amelia Gibbs all got valuable experience.

Sophomore Mallory Kuppe was brought up for the playoffs from a junior varsity team that went undefeated in SCVAL play.

Meanwhile, Cate Desler led Sacred Heart Prep with 17 kills, while Sammy Phillips (12) and Natalie Zimits (11) each reached double figures. Ally Polverari added nine kills.

Caroline Caruso recorded 13 digs and Haley Martella and Alexa Thompson shared 50 assists.

The Gators lost to No. 2 seed Monte Vista Christian in the CCS Division IV final and could play them next week if the seeds hold.

The Pilots lost to Branson in the North Coast Section Division IV finals. They are led by senior Chloe Hampton, who has 70 kills in her past five matches. Statistically, there's not much that separates the two teams.

The Knights last played 11 days ago, when they lost to Mitty in the first round of the Open Division bracket.

The Cardinals played in the Tiger Cup, where they lost to Gregori and Oak Ridge.

Against Bear River, Knights junior Ashley Dreyer had 11 kills, while Grace King and Selina Xu each had nine.

Jess Houghton and Sianna Houghton combined for 13 digs, while setters Kristin Sellers and Xu split 41 assists.

— Rick Eymer/Palo Alto Online Sports

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