Paly girls survive bumpy ride to earn volleyball win

Chelsea Fan had 14 kills and 28 digs for the Vikings. Photo by David Hickey.

Palo Alto had squandered an opportunity to finish off the match in three sets. Homestead was up 13-5 in the fourth set with seemingly all the momentum on its side. A fifth set, one that Palo Alto would have a hard time winning, looked to be right there on the horizon.

But then the dynamic of the match suddenly all changed. Palo Alto mounted a rally, running off eight straight winners to turn a 15-9 deficit into a 17-15 lead. And then there was no stopping the Vikings.

Tanli Su
They closed the fourth set on a mountainous 20-6 run and left the Homestead gym with a 25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-19 victory.

Palo Alto looked ready to make it a sweep, up 2-0 and with a 23-19 lead in the third set. But Homestead pulled out the improbable match-saving third-set win and appeared to have the match completely turned around.

“The errors we made at the end of the third set were a result of sloppy play,’’ said senior all-around standout Chelsea Fan. “We picked it up and pulled together in the fourth set and let them make the mistakes.’’

First-place Palo Alto improved to 14-3 on the season and 7-0 in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League De Anza Division.

“These girls have great chemistry,’’ Palo Alto coach Danielle Desiderio said. “They give everything on the court.’’

Remaining undefeated in league is one goal the team has.

“We’re really pushing for that,’’ Fan said. “Last year we lost one game in league. So this year we want to beat that and go 12-0.’’

Sophomore Amelia Gibbs, a 6-foot-1 middle blocker, led Paly with 15 kills. Fan had 14 kills and 28 digs. Tanli Su had 40 assists.

Another goal for the team, a big one, is to win a Central Coast Section championship. Last year the Vikings lost to Los Gatos 3-2 in the Division I final.

“We bonded a lot over the summer,’’ Fan said. “We’re definitely going to try to win CCS.’’

They’ll have to do it without a key player. Siena Brewster suffered a torn ACL in practice and is out for the season. Avery Wooten took her place in the lineup Thursday.

“This was a great performance from the team not having a starting player,’’ Desiderio said. “It was not easy for Avery, but she has the quality to help the team.’’

In other volleyball news, Menlo defeated host Harker 25-13, 25-16, 28-30, 25-10 in a West Bay Athletic League match Thursday and Sacred Heart Prep downed Mercy-Burlingame. 22-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-17, at Serra-San Mateo.

Sianna Houghton recorded team highs with16 kills and 14 digs for the Knights (18-3, 6-0), who host Mercy-San Francisco at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday.

Selina Xu recorded a triple-double with 12 kills, 17 assists and 13 digs. Ashley Dreyer and Emma Holland combined for another 21 kills while Kristin Sellers had 29 assists and 11 digs and Caroline Bradley added 12 digs.

Cate Desler recorded 27 kills and Ally Polverari added 18 kills in Sacred Heart Prep's win over the Crusaders.

Haley Martella had 49 assists and Caroline Caruso recorded 12 digs for the Gators (19-5, 5-2), who travel to Harker for a leaguer match Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.


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