Castilleja grabs early lead in sister showdowns


It was three against one as the Castilleja and Menlo School girls' volleyball teams met on Tuesday to open their West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) seasons in Palo Alto.

On one side was Gators' head coach Tracie (Hubbard) Meskell and her sister, Gwen, and their father, Tom. On the other side was Knights' head coach Atlee Hubbard, their sister.

Three against one are pretty good odds, and they held up as Castilleja held off Menlo, 12-25, 25-13, 25-18, 17-25, 15-13. The Gators (1-0) improved to 13-8 overall while the Knights (0-1) fell to 14-5.

"I told Atlee that her girls played a good game and that her players served really well and I gave her a hug," Meskell said of her postgame encounter with her sister.

Despite a slow start, Castilleja came on strong and got a big effort from senior Hannah Boland, who led the big win with 17 kills and four aces. Junior Lucy Tashman added 11 kills and nine digs while junior setter Hannah Hsieh contributed 38 assists.

"This match had certain games that had some of our best efforts but not the entire match," Meskell said. "As a whole, our hitters definitely had their best game so far this season."

Menlo, meanwhile, got 16 kills from junior Emma Thygesen and 14 kills with 10 digs from sophomore Maddie Huber.

"The team played some of their best volleyball this season and made great hustle plays," said Atlee Hubbard, who coached at Castilleja last season. "Freshman setter Elisa Merten made some very exciting plays at the net, which gave the team extra energy and momentum. The match was so even that it is hard to feel like we lost it.

Overall it was a great experience for our team."

Menlo sophomore middle blocker Morgan Dressel added 10 kills and two blocks, and junior Charlotte Kohlberg contributed 10 kills. Sophomore Melissa Cairo tallied 22 digs. Sophomore Sarah Bruml and senior Natalie Roy each had three of the team's 12 total aces.

In another WBAL (Foothill Division) opener on Tuesday, host Sacred Heart Prep (1-0, 11-3) got 12 kills and four blocks from Jesse Ebner in a 25-20, 25-19, 25-13 victory over visiting Mercy-Burlingame.

In a WBAL (Skyline Division) opener, host Pinewood (0-1, 6-4) dropped a 25-19, 25-15, 25-15 decision to Harker. Claire Nolan led the Panthers with five kills and .715 hitting while setter Adrienne Whitlock added 13 assists. Outside hitter Kandace Korver finished with four kills and six digs.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Gunn was swept by host Los Altos, 25-17, 25-16, 25-12. Lena Latour and Erica Johnston each had five kills for the Titans, who fell to 0-3 in league (10-9 overall).

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton remained atop the standings as the Bears (3-0, 10-4) romped to a 25-5, 25-23, 25-8 victory over visiting Half Moon Bay.

Cross country

Gunn sophomore Sarah Robinson won her second race in four days by racing to victory at the Central Park Invitational on Tuesday. Robinson, who won the girls' varsity race at the Frogtown Invitational in Angels Camp on Saturday, clocked a 13:40.6 time over the 2.3-mile course in Santa Clara.

Robinson's effort helped the Titans finish third with 94 points. Lybrook won with 72 with Monta Vista second with 81. Palo Alto was 12th with 275.

In the boys' race, Gunn senior Andrew Prior finished second in 11:43.1 to help the Titans finish fourth in the team race with 112 points. Cupertino captured the title with 56 points. Palo Alto was 11th with 353.

Girls' tennis

One streak continued while while ended as Menlo School opened its WBAL (Foothill Division) season with a 5-2 victory over host Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday.

The Knights (1-0, 6-1) improved their league winning streak to 179-0 since 1994 while ending the Gators' nine-match win streak to start this season.

Menlo sophomore Kristy Jorgensen rolled to a 6-1, 6-1 victory at No. 2 singles over Kelsey Hemm. Fellow sophomore Christine Eliazo defeated Alexa Bockman, 6-0, 6-3 and freshman Liz Yao took a 6-0, 6-3 decision over Nicole Schulz at the third and fourth singles spots for the Knights. At No. 1 singles, SHP freshman Caroline Nordman defeated Menlo junior Giannina Ong, 6-1, 6-1.

At No. 1 doubles, Menlo sophomore Paulina Golikova teamed with freshman Helena Ong to beat Ceci Marshall and Ruthie Sarwal, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6 and 10-6 in the super tiebreaker. Sacred Heart Prep's Lucy Ackley and Emily Westerfield edged Menlo junior Sam Hoag and senior Kacie Madeira, 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 at No. 2 doubles. Menlo's Sarah Schinasi and Tiffany Zhong pulled out a 7-5, 6-0 victory over the Gators' Kathleen Casey and Kate Ackley.

"Tiffany and Sarah played fantastic," Menlo coach Bill Shine said. "They were down 5-3 in the first, then made some adjustments and didn't lose a game after that."

Sacred Heart Prep was off to a 9-0 start, despite not having last year's No. 1 player, Alyssa Kohrs. She's still sidelined by injury, but should give the Gators a solid one-two punch upon her return.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton suffered its first loss of the league season with a 4-3 setback to host Carlmont. The deciding match was No. 1 singles, where Cori Sidell of Carlmont handed Erin LaPorte a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 loss. M-A fell to 4-1 in league (4-2 overall).

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto (2-2, 7-7) handed Los Altos a 6-1 loss while visiting Gunn (0-4, 2-10) dropped a 6-1 decision to Mountain View.

In the Vikings' victory, sophomores Aashli Budhiraja, Felicia Wang and Hollie Kool all won their singles matches in straight sets. Junior Sammy Solomon completed the sweep in singles by winning at No. 3. Amy Ke, the team's only senior teamed with sophomore Samantha Dewees for a 6-1, 6-2 win at No. 2 doubles.

Boys' water polo

Menlo School defeated De La Salle for the second time in two weeks as the Knights pulled out a 6-5 nonleague victory on Tuesday in Concord. Menlo (8-2) also beat the Spartans in the semifinals of the Scot Roche Invitational on Sept. 17.

Despite missing a starter due to illness, Menlo made the appropriate shifts in personnel and got an outstanding effort in goal by senior Connor Dillon, who blocked two penalty shots and finished with 10 saves.

Johnny Wilson tallied two goals for Menlo while Nick Hale and Brad Haaland each scored once and had three steals each. Hale also had three assists to lead the Knights.

In PAL Ocean Division action, Kyle Walden tallied four goals but visiting Priory came up short in a 16-9 loss to Half Moon Bay. Ryan Valentine added three goals for the Panthers (1-2, 2-8) with Eric Turnquist tallying twice. Goalie Max Barnes blocked two penalty shots among his six saves.

— Palo Alto Online Sports

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