Menlo-Atherton High's girls volleyball team went out the way they started, with big dreams and unlikely results. There were too many good things that happened this year to consider the Bears anything less than successful.
The final score, a 25-20, 25-21, 25-18 setback to Edison-Huntington Beach in the finals of the Division I state championship Friday night at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, does little to define the Bears, who worked together to create something that went beyond the game.
M-A showed what can happen when players come together, take ownership of their roles and work for each other. For the past three years, under two different coaching staffs, there was always something more than just the roster, something bigger than just a collection of players.
It takes more than just talent to get as far as Menlo-Atherton (30-6) did in each of the past three years. The Bears were one of the last teams standing because of a competitive spirit that can't be limited to a definition.
M-A loses seven seniors to graduation, but the team lost seven seniors before and still reached the state final. The legacy of the past few graduating classes will live on in the form of a returning group that will include juniors Lauren Heller and Nicole Kang, sophomores Alicia Letvin and Erica Fischer and freshman Marit Hoyem.
The senior class, Jacqueline DiSanto, Eliza Grover and Kiana Sales in particular, is taking 1,019 of M-A's 1,391 total kills with them to their various future destinations, mostly to serve as fond memories.
The returning players each have an opportunity to mold their own memories while cherishing the current accomplishments and shared friendships.
In the Division V state final, Head-Royce downed Immanuel, 25-9, 25-22, 25-14, to capture its first state title.
Menlo School goes for the Division IV state title at 11 a.m. Saturday against Point Loma. That match will be followed by Acalanes-Crossroads (Division III) at 1:30 p.m., Valley Christian-San Jose vs. Cathedral Catholic (Division II) ay 4 p.m. and Mitty and Santa Margarita (Open Division) at 6:30 p.m.