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SHP will defend its Division IV volleyball title

SHP, Castilleja and M-A girls all reach section water polo finals

The Sacred Heart Prep girls' volleyball team will have an opportunity to defend its Central Coast Section Division IV title following a 25-21, 21-25, 26-24, 25-23 triumph over No. 1 seed Soquel in a semifinal match Wednesday night at Christopher High in Gilroy.

Junior Sarah Daschbach had a huge game of 19 kills and 31 digs for the Gators (20-10) while sophomore Sonia Abuel-Saud added 10 kills and 14 digs. Senior setter Hannah Elmore provided 22 assists while junior setter Amelia Alvarez added 16.

Fourth-seeded Sacred Heart will face No. 2 Notre Dame-Belmont in the finals on Saturday at Independence High at 4:30 p.m. SHP lost to ND-Belmont back on Sept. 23 in a nonleague match.

In Division I action, top-seeded Palo Alto (35-1) will take on No. 5 Carlmont (21-13) in a semifinal match on Thursday at Watsonville High at 5:30 p.m. The winner will advance to Saturday's championship match (2:30 p.m.) at Independence High in San Jose against the winner between No. 2 North Salinas (28-4) and No. 3 Menlo-Atherton (21-7).

In Division V action, top-seeded Castilleja (26-8) will be favored when it takes on No. 4 Santa Catalina (17-10) in a semifinal match Thursday (5:30 p.m.) at Alma Heights in Pacifica. The winner will advance to Saturday's title match at Independence High in San Jose against either No. 2 Mt. Madonna or No. 3 Crystal Springs at 10:30 a.m.

Girls' water polo

Menlo-Atherton advanced to the finals of the CCS Division I tournament for a fourth straight season following a 4-3 victory over Gunn in a semifinal Wednesday night in the Bears' pool.

M-A senior MJ O'Neill scored the winning goal in the fourth period, sending the top-seeded Bears (17-9) into Saturday's title match against No. 3 St. Francis (18-8), which upended No. 2 Leland, 4-3, in the other semifinal.

Fourth-seeded Gunn (22-6), making its first-ever appearance in the semifinals, actually held a 3-2 lead after Lauren Leysna scored her third goal midway through the third period. The Bears battled back with Emily Gran scoring her second goal for a 3-3 match, setting up O'Neill's game-winner in the final quarter. M-A senior goalie Emily Dorst had 17 saves.

In CCS Division II action:

With Sarah Westcott pouring in five goals, the three-time defending section champion Sacred Heart Prep swamped St. Ignatius, 14-8, in the section semifinals on Wednesday night at Lynbrook High in San Jose.

The top-seeded Gators (25-3) led by only 5-3 at halftime, but a 6-1 outburst in the third quarter made all the difference. Senior goalie Catherine Donahoe had 14 saves while Emily Parsons and Erin Sheridan each added three goals for SHP, which will seek a fourth straight CCS title on Saturday against No. 3 seed Castilleja at Independence High in San Jose at 11:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, Castilleja advanced to its second CCS Division II final in three years with a 6-4 victory over Los Altos on Wednesday night at Lynbrook High.

Los Altos (19-7) came in seeded No. 2 while Castilleja (17-9) was No. 3, but the Gators' defense stood out with goalie Sallie Walecka getting 17 saves, while seniors Barbara Peterson and Natasha von Kaeppler accounted for all the scoring.

Walecka blocked a 5-meter penalty shot with under five minutes to play in the match and her team trailing, 4-3. A few minutes later, von Kaeppler scored to tie the match. Peterson provided the game-winning goal with under two minutes left to play, sending coach Brenda Villa to her first CCS finale in only her first season.

-- Palo Alto Online Sports

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