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November 19, 2004

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Friday, November 19, 2004

CCS Roundup CCS Roundup (November 19, 2004)

Castilleja all set for title shot Castilleja all set for title shot (November 19, 2004)

Gators eliminate Menlo, play for a CCS volleyball championship

by Keith Peters

The Castilleja volleyball has accomplished a great deal this season, but there are plenty of goals still ahead for the Gators.

Winning the program's first Central Coast Section title is the next opportunity, which could come Saturday when the No. 3 Gators (33-4) take on No. 1 and defending champion Notre Dame-Salinas (27-10) in the Division IV finals at West Valley College in Saratoga at noon.

The same teams met in last season's title match, with the Spirits posting a 28-26, 25-19, 28-26 victory.

"We are looking to take the crown this Saturday and revenge would be sweet," said Castilleja second-year coach Tracie Hubbard.

Should the Gators capture their first section crown in the sport, they will host a NorCal Tournament opener on Tuesday at Menlo College at 7 p.m. NorCal semifinals will be Nov. 27 with the NorCal finals set for Nov. 30.

Castilleja reached the NorCal Tournament last season, its first-ever appearance. The Gators were beaten in the first round, but are much deeper and talented this season.

They proved that with a 25-20, 25-19, 25-14 victory over No. 2 Menlo (20-12) on Wednesday in semifinal action at Valley Christian-San Jose. For the Knights, it was the second straight season they've been ousted in the semifinals.

"We had a very fun match," Hubbard said. "The team played outstanding defense and passed very consistently all night . . . We managed to serve tough, which made it hard for Menlo to get any kind of consistent offense going. Alex Fisher never had many good sets to work with."

Castilleja also did its part by having three players with 10 or more kills and three players with 10 or more digs. Junior Ariel Baxterbeck led the way with 11 kills and 16 digs while senior Katie Given contributed 10 kills and made only one error all night. Junior Chelsea Ono-Horn had 10 kills and junior Alissa Flesher added seven. Freshman Audrey Kuan produced 15 digs and senior Mia Kumagai added 10.

Girls tennis

Menlo (24-4) hopes to get another shot at Monta Vista (26-0) this weekend in the NorCal Tournament at the Fremont Tennis Center in Fremont, after the Matadors successfully defended their CCS title with a 7-0 win over the Knights on Wednesday at Courtside Tennis Club in Los Gatos.

"The girls will stay positive," Menlo coach Bill Shine said. "Hopefully we'll get another crack at them this weekend, if we get to the finals."

Despite the seemingly lopsided loss, Shine with pleased with his team's effort.

"Outside of No. 2 and 3 doubles, we were in every match," he said. "It was very, very close. I was real pleased. They never gave up. These girls really thought they could win. They were a little disappointed when they didn't.

"When you come up against a great team like Monta Vista, you have to have everything go right, and have things not go perfectly for Monta Vista. Hopefully we'll get another crack at them this weekend, if we get to the finals."

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