Menlo School has turned a rebuilding year for the girls volleyball team into a contending year following a surprising four-set victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep in a West Bay Athletic League match on Tuesday night.
It's no surprise that the Knights, who won 25-21, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21 to extend their winning streak to five matches, are good. After all, they've won five league titles in the past six years, won a state title and have played in the Central Coast Section Open Division the past three years, all while coach Tony Holland served as an assistant.
As a first-year head coach, Holland inherited a team that lost five seniors, three of whom are not only playing at the Division I level but for nationally ranked schools.
Menlo (15-7, 5-3) still has a way to go with a bunch of sophomores and freshmen (and one junior to go with four seniors) getting the majority of playing time. They're clearly getting better. Sacred Heart Prep beat the Knights in their first two meetings and the Gators (15-8, 6-2) are still in second place in the competitive WBAL.
The Knights still have a tough league schedule ahead with matches against league leader Notre Dame Belmont and co-second place Harker on the horizon. Menlo takes a break from league play with a weekend trip to San Diego for the Southern California Invitational beginning Friday.
The Knights improved to 10-1 at home, with the lone loss to St. Francis in the championship match of the Chandler Invitational. Notre Dame and Harker are the first two home matches after this weekend's tournament.
The Gators also have Notre Dame and Harker on their schedule so the next couple of weeks should be entertaining.
Menlo sophomore Sharon Nejad recorded 14 kills and junior Roxy Karrer added 13 to pace the Knights. Sophomore Hanna Hoffman dished 27 assists and had 12 digs. Senior Abby Holleran added 11 digs and freshman Havannah Hoeft posted 18 assists, four aces and four kills. Freshman Emma Donley added six blocks for Menlo.
For SHP, Elena Radeff, who will be playing at Santa Clara in the fall, ripped 18 kills, had three blocks and recorded 11 digs. Sofie Wheeler added 10 kills while sophomore Millie Muir, who has committed to Duke, had 39 assists, 17 digs and a pair of blocks.
Sacred Heart Prep looks to get back on track with a home game against Mercy San Francisco at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
In the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, Palo Alto remained undefeated in De Anza Division play with a 25-15, 25-16, 25-11 victory over visiting Monta Vista Cupertino on Tuesday.
Senior Mia Gibbs had seven kills, four blocks and a dig to lead the Vikings (12-5, 7-0), who recorded their third straight three-set sweep after going the first 14 matches without one. They'll look for number four Thursday when the Vikings visit Homestead for a 6:45 p.m. match.
Senior Ashley Xu hit .500 with six kills and a dig. Senior Grace Thayer and sophomore Amelia Vugrincic had five kills apiece and senior Bekah Limb led the team with 16 digs.
In the Peninsula Athletic League, first place Menlo-Atherton was surprised at home by Burlingame 25-23, 25-22, 25-13 in Bay Division action.
The Bears (16-5, 7-1) retain possession of first place though Aragon is a game back and the Panthers (12-8, 5-3) are two back with six league matches remaining. M-A hosts Woodside (9-12, 2-6) at 6:15 p.m. Thursday.
Senior Natalie Grover led the Bears with 11 kills. She added five digs. Junior Emma Spindt had nine kills and six digs. Senior Mariah Grover led the team with 16 assists and Bella Shermis had 10 digs.
The Wildcats lost at Aragon, 21-25, 25-22, 25-21, 25-18, as senior Sarah Strus recorded 18 kills and 15 digs and fellow senior Eleana Campbell added 11 kills and 16 digs. Junior Krista Opp recorded 22 digs and senior Molly Buddie had 36 assists.
In WBAL Skyline Division action, Jordan Amos-Grosser had 11 kills and Hadley Nunn added eight as Castilleja beat Priory, 25-18, 25-23, 25-21. Eveliena Pasmooij and Kayla Drazen combined for 13 kills and four blocks.
Pinewood dropped a 25-4, 25-19, 25-11 decision to host Nueva in a nonleague match.