Menlo, M-A and SH Prep enjoy successful volleyball day

Menlo sophomore Sharon Nejad delivers a hit against St. Francis. Photo by Pam McKenney.

Host Menlo School fell to St. Francis 25-20, 25-17, in the championship match of the Gold Bracket in Saturday’s Chris Chandler girls volleyball Tournament.

Woodside resident Kirra Kellerman led the Lancers (13-0) with 11 kills.

Elena Radeff
Menlo went 4-1 on the day.

"With five of the top eight finishers at Spikefest, including two-time defending champion St. Francis, this year was the strongest field of competition that Chandler Invitational has hosted," said Menlo coach Tony Holland. "I'm sure all the fans enjoyed the high level of volleyball and spirited play throughout the day. We thank all who participated."

The Knights (9-3) defeated Prospect, Thomas More, Burlingame and Los Gatos before falling to St. Francis-Mountain View in the Gold Division championship. Menlo-Atherton defeated Los Gatos in the third-place match.

Menlo got 26 kills from senior Emma Holland. Junior Roxy Karrer finished with 20 kills and 10 digs and sophomore Sharon Nejad recorded 20 kills, including 5 for 5 hitting against Burlingame. Nejad also had seven aces, eight blocks and nine digs.

Menlo sophomores Hanna Hoffman posted 10 kills, five blocks, eight digs and 33 assists while Zoe Gregory finished with 41 assists and landed 10 aces. Freshman Havannah Hoeft had 14 kills, six aces, 11 digs and 35 assists.

Menlo sophomores Alli McKenney posted 26 digs and Hallie MacDonald contributed 14 digs for the Knights. Kami Israelski, also a sophomore, added 11 kills for the Knights.

Holland and Karrer accounted for 12 and eight kills, respectively in the semifinals.

The Chandler Tournament is named in honor of longtime Menlo School volleyball program supporter Chris Chandler, the husband of Menlo School dance teacher, Jan Chandler, and father of Courtney, also a Menlo dance instructor, Brittany and Tyler. Chris, along with Jan, supported Menlo volleyball, after hearing from one of Jan’s dancers/volleyball players that fan attendance was low at games. He flew down to Southern California to watch the Knights play at Loyola Marymount in the 2000 state championship. Chris died in a pedestrian accident in 2010.

Menlo-Atherton finished third depite not having the services of outside hitter junior Emma Spindt, the team's leading scorer.

The Bears finished 3-0 in pool play, beating Gunn, Aptos and Notre Dame San Jose, before eventually falling to St. Francis in a semifinal match in 3 sets.

The Bears capped off their 11-hour volleyball marathon with a 3-set victory over Los Gatos in their final game of the day.

Seniors were the heart of the Bears offense on Saturday. Outside Natalie Grover led the team with 36 kills, followed by middle Marit Hoyem with 24 and right side Olivia Lang with 22.

It was also an opportunity for junior hitters to shine with outside Miller Olson getting 23 kills, right side Semiajah Ix-Siu getting 14, and middle Julia Kahle earning 2.

Sophomore Merritt Olson also got on the board with 4 kills. Junior setter Solie Cecil led the team with 63 assists, while senior Mariah Grover followed with 34 and junior Rachel Park added 29.

On defense, senior libero Bella Shermis had 38 digs and junior defensive specialists’ Piper Mueller and Catie Olshausen contributed 21 and 20 respectively. Natalie Grover, Miller Olson, and Hoyem also each had double digit dig totals with 33, 14 and 11.

Sacred Heart Prep won the Silver Bracket after finishing second in pool play to Los Gatos.

The Gators downed Aragon 25-23, 25-27, 15-11 in the final match of the bracket. Elena Radeff had 80 kills over the course of the tournament. Millie Muir averaged 18.4 assists per match while sharing setting duties with Sara Lin.

Palo Alto had a tough run through the Elite Eight tournament in Marin County but ended the day with a hard-fought win. The Vikings went 1-3 against excellent competition, finishing seventh at the tournament and falling to 3-3 on the young season.

Palo Alto opened the day with a 25-20, 25-12 loss to Monte Vista-Danville at Marin Catholic. Senior Ashley Xu had a pair of aces but Paly never really got going after using a lot of emotion in five-set victories over Valley Christian and Archbishop Mitty during the week.

The Vikings then fell 25-18, 25-9 to Campolindo. Amelia Gibbs had four kills while Amelia Vugrincic and junior Kylie Mies added two each. Mies and junior Hyunah Roh had an ace, while junior Kimi Lillios had five digs and Krugler, Mies and Roh had four apiece.

Palo Alto began getting into a groove in a 25-20, 25-14 loss to Marin Catholic but still took fourth place in its pool. Vugrincic had four kills and four digs, Gibbs had three kills and an ace, and sophomore Thea Enache had two kills. Lillios had seven digs, Mies had four, and senior Grace Thayer had a pair of blocks to lead the defense.

Paly moved to The Branson School for the seventh-place match against St. Mary’s-Stockton, who went to third sets in all three of their pool-play matches, but lost each. The Vikings made it four for four with a 25-20, 24-26, 16-14 victory, after Gibbs served an ace on match point.

Krugler had 13 kills and four digs, Gibbs hit .476 with 12 kills and three blocks, and Vugrincic had four kills, three digs and three blocks. Lillios had nine digs, Mies had six, and senior Rebekah Limb had several strong runs at the service line to help the Vikings end the day on a happy note.

“We really had a tough time getting in sync in the morning and it seemed like the harder we tried, the worse things got,” said Palo Alto Coach Chris Crader. “With this group of opponents, even being just a little off makes winning almost impossible. We were able to earn a big win at the end of the day against a really good team.

"Our preseason schedule of seven matches features seven excellent teams, so we knew there would be a lot of huge challenges but we also thought that was what we needed to really help us become the team we think we can be. And as frustrating as some of these matches were, I saw lots of good thing from each of the 15 girls on our roster, and there’s a lot we can take from it. To go through a rough day and finish with a big win is a great credit to our team.”

Palo Alto returns to action Tuesday, hosting St. Francis at 7 p.m.

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