The final match of the regular season will provide an opportunity for three local girls' volleyball teams to remain perfect in league play this season. Other than that, there will be little drama for the Palo Alto, Sacred Heart Prep and Menlo-Atherton squads.
All three teams wrapped up their respective division crowns on Tuesday night in matches that ranged from the dramatic to the sublime.
All the drama was provided by Palo Alto, which was forced to five sets before winning its sixth straight SCVAL De Anza Division crown with a 25-12, 19-25, 18-25, 25-19, 15-11 victory at Los Gatos.
"We definitely had to earn this match," said Paly coach Dave Winn, whose team improved to 11-0 in league (29-3) heading into Thursday's regular-season finale at Gunn at 6:45 p.m.
"We caught them off guard in the first set," added Winn. "I think the (Los Gatos) seniors were still a bit distracted from all the senior night festivities at their place. We could do no wrong in the first set and aced them a few times.
"But then Gatos woke up and we started making errors. In fact, we missed six serves in the second set alone (but made only two others in the whole match). Most of our timeouts were spent tying to calm down and start trusting one another more."
Winn said his team finally started executing the scouting report on Los Gatos in the fourth set.
"And then it was just two good teams duking it out the rest of the way." Winn said. "We finished with 11 kills to their seven in the fifth set and maintained the spacing until the last thunderous hit from Melanie (Wade) to seal the deal."
The Wildcats (9-2, 22-8) needed a victory to force a co-championship, but instead dropped their second match to the Vikings this season after handing Paly its only loss during a 41-1 campaign in 2010 that saw the Vikings win the CIF Division I state championship.
Paly senior Maddie Kuppe had a career-high 29 kills with 12 digs and Wade added 25 kills, six blocks and four aces. Senior Caroline Martin had 15 digs and three aces, junior Shelby Knowles added 13 digs while senior Kimmy Whitson had a season-high 53 digs to go with four kills and four blocks.
Palo Alto will take a 14-match win streak into the match against Gunn (1-10, 14-18), which dropped a 25-22, 22-25, 25-23, 25-23 SCVAL De Anza Division decision to host Monta Vista on Tuesday. Gunn senior Julia Maggioncalda had 18 kills.
Sacred Heart Prep, meanwhile, wasn't tested like Palo Alto while capturing the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) title with a 21-25, 26-24, 25-15, 25-18 victory over visiting Castilleja (4-5, 17-13) on Tuesday night. It was SHP's seventh straight victory.
The Gators (9-0, 21-5) were led by seniors Sarah Daschbach and Jesse Ebner, who had 22 kills and 12 kills, respectively. Senior Olivia Bertolucci had 24 digs for SHP, which will close out the regular season on Thursday at Menlo School at 5:45 p.m.
Castilleja was led by junior Lucy Tashman with 13 kills and four blocks while junior Lindsey Wang added 10 kills and 18 digs. Freshman Jennifer DiSanto contributed 24 digs and two aces for the Gators.
Also in Atherton, Menlo-Atherton moved closer to a perfect season in the PAL Bay Division with a relatively easy 25-12, 25-23, 25-15 sweep of Aragon. The Bears (13-0, 25-4), also clinching the division title, got five kills, six digs, four blocks and two aces from junior Katelyn Doherty while normal reserves Sara Altman (four kills, four aces, five digs) and Jaqueline Stoner (four kills) also contributed to the victory.
Menlo-Atherton will visit Woodside on Thursday (5:30 p.m.) to close the PAL season.
Elsewhere on Tuesday night:
Menlo School extended its winning streak to five matches with a 23-25, 25-10, 25-20, 26-24 victory over host Notre Dame-San Jose in a WBAL (Foothill Division) match. The Knights (7-2, 22-6) got 20 kills, nine digs and two aces from senior Natalie Roy to lead the way.
"I'm proud of our team's performance tonight, facing a good team in a tough gym," said Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard. "We played at a consistent level tonight."
A trio of sophomores also helped rally Menlo, as well. Maddie Huber contributed 13 kills and 10 digs, Maddy Frappier added 11 kills and nine digs with libero Melissa Cairo finishing with 15 digs and four aces. Freshman setter Elisa Merten had 48 assists and eight digs for Menlo, which will host division champ Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday and Menlo-Atherton on Friday (5:45 p.m.) in a nonleague match.