While the Menlo School and Sacred Heart Prep girls' volleyball teams have played a combined 34 matches this season, their respective West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) openers were a bit shaky on Tuesday night.
Both teams, considered the co-favorites in the division this season, posted victories as expected. The Knights, however, took four sets while the Gators simply weren't at the top of their game.
Nevertheless, both teams make successful debuts and took the first step toward a pair of head-to-head meetings that most likely will decide the WBAL crown this season.
In Atherton, Menlo played its first match since going 4-1 and taking second in its own Chris Chandler Invitational on Saturday and produced a routine 25-17, 25-13, 23-25, 25-4 victory over Notre Dame-San Jose. The Knights improved to 11-5.
Juniors Sarah Bruml and Maddy Frappier paced the Knights' attack with 10 kills each. Bruml also contributed five of the team's 10 blocks.
Serving again was a key part of Menlo's game and the Knights ended up with 17 aces.
"Everyone contributed in tonight's win and we were playing very well as a team," Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard said. "Seeing our whole team supporting and encouraging one another was fun and it kept our energy consistent.
Just up the street, Sacred Heart Prep opened defense of its division title with a 25-17, 25-13, 25-21 victory over visiting Priory in a performance SHP coach Damien Hardy remarked as flat.
Ellie Shannon led the Gators (1-0, 16-2) with 13 kills and three blocks while fellow senior Sonia Abuel-Saud added nine kills and 16 digs. Seniors Payton Smith (nine kills, four blocks), Helen Gannon (18 digs) and Cammie Merten (19 assists) also contributed to the victory.
Priory (0-1, 9-4) got 11 kills from junior Marine Hall-Poirier and senior Briana Willhite added eight kills while hitting .370.
Elsewhere in the WBAL Foothill Division, Castilleja fell to visiting Mercy-San Francisco, 25-17, 25-23, 25-19. Sarah Rose and Lucy Tashman had six kills and Jennifer DiSanto had 16 digs for the Gators (0-1, 8-8).
In the PAL Bay Division, senior Ali Spindt had eight kills and 27 assists to spark host Menlo-Atherton (3-0, 5-5) downed visiting Aragon, 25-17, 25-17, 25-13. It was the Bears' 21st straight victory in league play.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, senior Shelby Knowles had a big night with 22 kills, eight digs and a solid .378 hitting percentage to pace Palo Alto to a 25-20, 25-7, 21-25, 25-15 victory over visiting Monta Vista. For the Vikings (3-0, 14-3), it was their 17th consecutive triumph in league play.
Junior Becca Raffel added 13 kills and nine digs for Paly, which had only 13 hitting errors in 113 attempts. Sophomore Jade Schoenberger added seven kills, senior co-captain Sophia Bono finished with 38 assists and nine digs while junior Keri Gee had 21 digs.
In Los Altos, Gunn found the road bumpy as the Titans dropped a 25-15, 25-18, 25-27, 25-21 decision to the host Eagles in De Anza Division action. Lena Latour led the Titans (1-2, 8-7) with 17 kills.
The Pinewood at ICA match was not reported.
Freshman Gillian Meeks finished sixth overall in the varsity race to pace the Gunn girls to a second-place finish in the SCVAL Central Park Preview on Tuesday over a 2.3-mile layout in Santa Clara.
Meeks clocked 14:26.8 to help the Titans score 105 points. The Paly girls were third with 116 as sophomore Katie Foug led the Vikings with a fourth-place finish of 14:23.6.
In the boys' varsity race, Paly's Ben Hawthorne was 14th overall in 12:25 to help the Vikings finish fourth.
Gunn remained unbeaten in the Blossom Valley Athletic League following a 198-256 victory over host Live Oak at the par-31 Gavilan Golf Course on Tuesday. Sophomore Anna Zhou shot a 3-over 34 and junior Jayshree Sarathy added a 36 to pace the Titans (3-0, 6-1).
Menlo-Atherton bounced back from its first PAL Bay Division loss last week and handed host Burlingame a 6-1 defeat on Tuesday. Erin LaPorte, Samantha Andrew, Lindy LaPlante and Valerie Giordano swept the singles matches for the Bears (5-1, 7-4).
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto (2-2, 9-4) battled to a 4-3 victory over host Milpitas.
In WBAL Skyline Division action, host Castilleja got straight-set victories in singles from Paulette Wolak, April Chien, Julia McKay and Celeste Wolyshen while defeating Priory, 7-0, at Rinconada Park.
In nonleague action, Gunn (6-7) dropped a 6-1 decision to host Los Altos. The Titans' lone win came at No. 1 doubles where Anjali Herekar and Jenny Yoon posted a 6-1, 6-3 victory.
Boys' water polo
Gunn gave first-place Mountain View all it could handle, but couldn't stop Michael McGee when it counted and dropped a tough 8-7 decision to the host Spartans on Tuesday.
McGee scored five goals for Mountain View (4-0, 9-0), which grabbed the lead in the third quarter with four goals. The Titans (2-2, 2-6) had taken a 2-1 lead after the opening quarter on goals by Michael Znidarsic and Emmanuel Miller. Goalie Harrison Waschura blocked two 5-meter penalty shots to help keep the Titans in the game.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Priory played its most complete match of the season but still dropped a 15-9 decision to host Terra Nova. Seniors Kyle Walden and Mike Schembri produced five and four goals, respectively, to lead the Panthers (0-4 in league).
Girls' water polo
Gunn maintained its hold on first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division after swamping host Wilcox, 18-3 on Tuesday. Caroline Anderson and Lauren Lesyna each tallied four goals for the Titans (4-0, 8-3), who jumped out to an 8-1 first-quarter lead.
In the PAL Ocean Division, Kaelen Dunn scored four goals and Leslie Akin and Kate Huneke each scored three goals to pace Menlo School to a 15-2 win over host Terra Nova. The Knights improved to 3-1 in league.