When senior Emma Symon slammed home the winning point in Los Altos' marathon 25-16, 27-29, 25-15, 19-25, 21-19 girls volleyball victory at home over Palo Alto on Wednesday night, one might have thought the Eagles were ready to play another match.
"When you get to the fifth set and win by two, you get excited," Symon said. "People get motivated. It felt like a rivalry game."
Los Altos (12-9, 4-3) won its third straight, matching the longest such streak of its season and it comes at a good time.
The Eagles opened SCVAL De Anza Division play with one win in four matches. One of those losses was in five sets at Palo Alto, which has been playing without outside hitter Amelia Vugrincic.
"We've had a few people out," Paly coach Chris Crader said. "They're starting to come back."
Senior opposite Alex Franklin saw her first action in a month for the Vikings (12-8, 4-3), who fell into a third-place tie with Los Altos, behind Los Gatos and Mountain View, which owns the league's longest current winning streak at 11 matches.
While both teams remain in the title hunt, it's becoming more of a long-shot. They can still make their marks in the postseason though.
"We try to play good teams to get ready for the CCS and NorCals," Los Altos coach Peter Kim said of its difficult non league schedule. "It's kind of tough but in the long run it will help. We have played a lot of five-setters."
Symon, who matched Carolyn Dormady with a team-high 12 kills, agreed.
"We definitely have the talent and skill," she said. "We need to keep the energy and stay motivated. I think the more confidence and energy we bring, we'll work out the kinks."
Symon recorded two kills and two blocks in the fifth set. Both blocks and her first kill each gave Los Altos the lead. Her final kill won the match.
Dormady, who added 12 digs, also contributed four points in the final set on two kills, a block and an ace. Kaitlyn Cuppett, who recorded 14 digs and 11 assists, and Kaitlyn Lee combined for another four points in the fifth.
Megan Wong's serving proved vital, allowing Los Altos to go runs in both the third and fourth sets. She finished with seven aces to go with 12 digs and 18 assists. Shannon McCabe (18 digs), Leigh Doyas and Clara Graef also delivered in key moments.
"As a whole I thought we played well as a team," Kim said. "I would not be able to pick one or two players. They all get a great job."
For Palo Alto, senior Thea Enache stepped up with four kills and a block in the fifth set. She also ended the second set with consecutive kills.
"This is an opportunity from which we can grow," Crader said. "I feel like we have the ability to play at a higher level than we have. We talk about 'today' being the most important day. When the playoffs start, it's like the slate is wiped clean and we're back at square one. If we can find our rhythm by then, we can accomplish something."
Paly has a non league match with Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday before opening the Stockton Challenge on Saturday.
Los Altos travels to Gunn for a league match Thursday before opening the Aragon tournament Saturday against Sequoia and SHP.
The Menlo boys placed second and the Castilleja girls placed first in their respective races at the West Bay Athletic League Meet on the Crystal Springs Course on Thursday.
Menlo junior Justin Pretre earned the individual title for the boys, finishing the 2.95-mile course in 15:46 to guide the Knights to second, six points behind winner Crystal Springs.
Priory's Levente Palvolgyi finished second overall with a time of 15:49.9
Menlo had four runners finish among the top 10, Landon Pretre, a freshman, was fourth in 16:01.4, senior Nik Khuntia seventh in 16:49 and sophomore Alex Boesch in ninth in 16:49 among 45 runners. Menlo's Will Hauser finished in 17:36.3 and Nishan Rajavasireddy in 19:30.1.
On the girls side, Castilleja's Perry McElhinney won the race in 18:23.0. Samira Kennedy was third in 18:56.3 and Daniela Henderson placed fourth in 19:17.5.
Sacred Heart Prep, which finished second behind Castilleja, had four runners among the top 10: Julia Soderberry (19:21.5) placed fifth, followed by Lucy Paynter in sixth in a time of 19:39.0, Janie Morganroth in seventh in 20:12.3 and Sophie Cheung in 10th in 20:31.1.
Senior Grace Tang was the Knights' top finisher in 20:43.9 while fellow senior Pia Gallo was nearby to capture 12th in 2:51.1.
The Menlo School boys beat St. Francis at home 19-13 and the St. Francis girls beat Menlo at home, 12-3, in WCAL action Wednesday.
The Menlo boys were down a goal early in the second quarter and then scored eight goals in the period to go up by five at halftime.
Six different players had multiple assists including both goalies, Connor Mulloy with two and Finn Byrne with three. Ethan Babel, Michael Fang, Tommy Kiesling, and Teddy Meeks each had a pair.
Seven different players scored for Menlo, led by co-captain Greg Hilderbrand leading the way with eighth.
Menlo is coming off of an eighth place finish at the S&R cup in Orange County, where the Knights beat Los Osos to get into the top half of the bracket and ended up losing to Corona Del Mar by one.
"Last weekend's tournament was tough for us," Menlo coach Jack Bowen said. "We fought to get into the top half of the bracket and then played three exceptionally strong teams. I told our guys to keep our heads up and to bring that level of play back to Northern California in these weeks to come. We did that tonight, playing exceptionally well and finding a way to attack as a team and score 19 goals."
Menlo hosts NCS powerhouse Monte Vista of the NCS section Saturday at 2 p.m. for its Homecoming game.