High stakes NorCal volleyball matches on horizon for SHP, M-A

Sacred Heart Prep celebrates its regional semifinal victory over Christopher. The Gators host Lowell at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the NorCal finals. Photo courtesy of Sandra Smith.

There's a spot in the state championship match at stake for the girls volleyball teams at Menlo-Atherton and Sacred Heart Prep when they take to the court Tuesday night in the Northern California championships.

Top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep (26-11) can stamp its claim at home. The Gators host No. 6 Lowell (28-8) at 7 p.m. (a time change to accommodate NorCal boys and girls home water polo matches at 3:30 and 5 p.m. respectively).

Marit Hoyem/BD
The Cardinals, who beat Burlingame to earn a spot in the finals, is 4-2 against Peninsula Athletic League teams and 0-2 against the West Catholic Athletic League. They've played, and lost to, M-A, Sacred Heart Cathedral and Marin Catholic.

Second-seeded Menlo-Atherton (26-6) will have to win on the road as it travels to top-seeded Campolindo (26-6) for a 6 p.m. start.

The Cougars swept Palo Alto on Saturday to reach the finals. They are 10-0 at home this season. They've won 10 of their past 11 matches, with the loss to Bishop O'Dowd.

M-A and Campolindo have both lost to Marin Catholic and both beaten Palo Alto.

The Gators won the NorCal title two years ago and the Bears were NorCal champs three years ago.

Sacred Heart Prep beat visiting Christopher 25-18, 25-16, 25-19 over the weekend as Santa Clara-bound Elena Radeff recorded 13 kills and had eight digs. Sara Alnajjar and Reagan Smith combined for another 13 kills and five blocks.

Sophomore Millie Muir contributed eight kills, six digs and combined with Sarah Lin for 37 assists.

Menlo-Atherton turned back visiting Clovis West 25-17, 25-23, 25-17 to earn a trip to Moraga.

The Bears were led by Natalie Grover with 13 kills and five digs. Emma Spindtn added 10 kills and eight digs, and Marit Hoyem recorded seven kills.

Olivia Lang, Semaijah Ix-Siu and Julia Kahle combined for another 10 kills while Mariah Grover had 19 assists to go with a team-high 10 digs. Rachel Park added 17 assists.

M-A, which recorded six team blocks, had nine aces in the match, with Bella Shermis nailing three of them. She also had nine digs.

Palo Alto had its season end in Moraga as Campolindo defeated the Vikings, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20.

"We fought hard but could never really get things going," said Paly coach Chris Crader. "It was one of those nights for us, unfortunately, and credit to Campolindo for playing very well."

Junior Sophia Krugler had 10 kills, seven digs, a block and an ace to lead the Vikings, and senior Amelia Gibbs added eight kills, two digs and two aces.

Sophomore Amelia Vugrincic had eight kills and four digs, while junior Trisha Razdan added four kills and two digs. Senior Rebekah Limb had eight digs and an ace, sophomore Hillary Cheung had six digs and an ace, and senior Grace Thayer had three blocks and two digs.

"The last loss of the year is always tough, especially when there were some areas where things didn't go as well as you hoped," Crader said. "But our team kept fighting all night and gave everything that we had. It was a truly great season, and we played our best volleyball the last week of the season, so there is a whole lot to be proud of. I feel really fortunate that I had a chance to work with this group, and especially with our four seniors this year."

The Vikings (22-6) won the SCVAL De Anza Division title for the fourth consecutive season after beating a pair of teams that qualified to play NorCal Open Division (Mitty and St. Francis Sacramento).

Palo Alto played a total of nine matches against the top eight overall seeds in the NorCal playoffs. The team also won two matches in the NorCal playoffs, its first wins there since 2013.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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