Saturday will be busy for Sacred Heart Prep with four teams in CCS, three in finals


For one who likes to support his teams as much as possible, Sacred Heart Prep Athletic Director Frank Rodriguez could be a busy man on Saturday with four of his squads participating in Central Coast Section playoffs -- three of them in championships.

If everything works out as planned with no overtimes, Rodriguez just might be able to watch all three. But, it will take a bit of driving.

The top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep girls' water polo team will go after a record fifth straight CCS Division II title on Saturday morning, taking on No. 2 seed Los Altos at Independence High in San Jose at 10 a.m.

Following that match at 11:30 a.m., the top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep boys' water polo team also will take on Los Altos, seeded No. 3, in the CCS Division II title match at the Independence pool.

At that point, Rodriguez will have to put the pedal to the metal and head back to Sacred Heart Prep to catch the No. 4-seeded Gators' football team hosting Scotts Valley in a CCS Division IV opener that starts at 1 p.m.

Once that game finishes, Rodriguez could head back to Independence to catch the Gators' top-seeded girls' volleyball team take on No. 2 Soquel in the CCS Division IV championship match at 4:30 p.m.

"I will be at water polo for both games and be a bit late for football (last year I got there at the end of the 1st quarter)," Rodriguez said. " I'll then head back down to Independence for volleyball. This is the same schedule I used last year (the first year I missed the boys' CCS championship water polo game to get back here to oversee our first-ever home CCS football game).

"It is a crazy day for sure but one we feel so fortunate to experience . . . several of our "Gator Nation" students/parents/fans will be hustling to all four events, so I'm nothing special."

St. Francis is the only other CCS school that has four teams playing in the section playoffs this weekend (football, volleyball and two water polo), but only three teams will be playing Saturday. Rodriguez has all four on the same day.

Two SHP teams put that scenario in motion with victories on Wednesday.

With senior Pippa Temple pouring in seven goals, the SHP girls' water polo team advanced to the CCS Division II championship match with a 17-5 dunking of No. 4 Burlingame in the section semifinals at Gunn High. Bridgette Harper added four goals and sophomore goalie Kelly Moran had 13 saves for the Gators (23-5). Los Altos (19-7) will be playing in only its first CCS title match. The Eagles advanced with a 13-10 win over No. 3 St. Ignatius.

The Sacred Heart Prep volleyball team will play for a third straight CCS Division IV championship on Saturday after sweeping aside No. 5 seed Harbor, 25-21, 25-19, 25-16 in the semifinals on Wednesday at Menlo School. The top-seeded Gators (23-6) will face No. 2 Soquel (30-4), which will be making its first appearance in any CCS title match since 1992.

Sacred Heart Prep, which has won 12 section titles and reached the finals 15 times since 1988, got 12 kills and five blocks from junior Ellie Shannon while senior Jesse Ebner added nine kills and six blocks in the quick victory. Senior Olivia Bertolacci had nine digs while Helen Gannon played well in the back row as a defensive specialist.

In other CCS volleyball action:

Menlo School saw its season end in a five-set loss to No. 2-seeded Soquel in the CCS Division IV semifinals in the Knights' gym on Wednesday. The No. 3-seeded Knights (24-8) wrapped up a fine season despite a 25-12, 24-26, 25-20, 22-25, 16-14 setback.

"After our first set when nerves got the best of us, we started making big plays," said Menlo first-year coach Atlee Hubbard. "We won a lot of long rallies which gave us a lot of momentum."

Sophomore Maddie Huber paced Menlo in all aspects, collecting 19 kills, 18 digs and three blocks. Natalie Roy, the team's lone senior, had seven kills and 13 digs despite playing with the flu. Sophomore middle blocker Morgan Dressel had seven kills and four blocks and sophomore libero Melissa Cairo picked up 23 digs and two aces. Freshman Elisa Merten finished with 41 assists, five blocks and a pair of aces.

Menlo held a 6-2 lead in the fifth set and it was 14-14 following Huber's final kill. The Knights followed with a service error and Soquel scored the final point on a dink at the net.

Boys' water polo

Palo Alto saw its solid season end in a 16-5 loss to No. 2 seed Bellarmine in the Central Coast Section Division I boys' water polo semifinals on Wednesday at Serra High. The No. 6-seeded Vikings (17-13) fell behind by 5-1 after one quarter and trailed 8-1 at the half to the Bells (19-9), who will play No. 1 St. Francis (an 11-5 winner over Leland) in the CCS finals on Saturday at Independence High at 2:30 p.m.

Sophomore Will Conner and freshman Nelson Perla-Ward each scored twice for the Vikings with senior Aaron Zelinger adding one. Zelinger is one of only four seniors on the team. The others playing in their final match were goalie Daniel Armitano, Peter Rockhold and Ethan Mellberg.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online

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