Sports

Menlo School claims title of own girls volleyball tournament

Cleo Hardin recorded 10 of her 31 kills in the title match. Photo taken Sept. 18, 2021 by Pam McKenney/Menlo Athletics

There were all levels of success Saturday inside Menlo School's gym, which hosted the Chris Chandler Invitational.

Menlo won the girls volleyball tournament with an exciting 25-21, 17-25, 15-7 victory over Hillsdale, which suffered its first loss of the season.

Gunn qualified for the gold bracket (championship round) and finished fourth overall. Menlo-Atherton reached the title match of the silver bracket and Woodside completed its stay in the tournament with an appearance in the bronze bracket final.

Good results for all involved.

"It was definitely exciting," Menlo senior Simone Adam said. "It's the first time we've won this tournament since I've been here."

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Adam moved into the middle for the first time all season in the third set of the championship match, filling a void due to an injury. She recorded seven kills and three blocks overall.

"She came up to me and wanted to play the middle," Knights coach Tony Holland said. "She's done it before and what a great attitude to step up for the team."

The move helped equalize Hillsdale's height in the middle.

"I felt the defense was a little shaky in the second set," Adam said. "It's something I've done in the past but I'm an outside hitter. The biggest difference is you have more responsibility with blocking and it's a little faster in the middle."

Sophomore Cleo Hardin has been a pleasant surprise for Menlo this season. She recorded 31 kills, 10 in the title match, in helping the Knights (16-5) win four games. Surrounded by seniors, she's upped her game.

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"She's improved more than I thought she would," said Holland.

Overall, Adam had 23 kills and seven blocks on the afternoon. Senior setter Hanna Hoffman had 61 assists, 15 kills, 11 digs and five aces. Senior Sharon Nejad finished with 26 kills, senior Zoe Gregory had 56 assists and senior Hallie MacDonald added 15 digs.

Junior Brooke Dombkowski had 17 kills and 23 digs for Menlo, which returns to West Bay Athletic League play at Notre Dame in San Jose on Tuesday evening.

"It's nice to win a tournament but I see it as another step in the overall development," Holland said. "Hillsdale was a big challenge and as good as we've seen. They played great defense."

Gunn (8-8) beat Aragon 25-23, 26-24 and Sir Thomas More 25-5, 25-11 to reach the gold bracket and then fell to Menlo 25-15, 25-16 and SCVAL De Anza Division rival Los Gatos 25-22, 25-22. The Titans just lost a league match to Los Altos in five sets earlier in the week.

"I think it went relatively well," Gunn senior Valeria Werbrouck said. "We have things to work on and these were challenging teams. I think, for the sophomores on the team, this is a good accomplishment."

Sophomore Celine Safa agreed.

"I think we showed what kind of team we could be," she said. "This is my first year on a good volleyball and I'm getting a lot of great experience playing with older players. I'm learning a lot."

Added sophomore Sophia Yen: "It shows the importance of practice and challenging ourselves. I don't think anyone expected us to get this far. I'm proud of the team."

Gunn hosts Palo Alto in a league match Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.

Woodside (5-7) beat Moreau Catholic twice in three sets during the tournament, a learning experience in itself.

In pool play, the Wildcats pulled out a 25-23, 23-25, 15-10 win. Woodside its bronze bracket match with Moreau Catholic 25-15, 19-25, 15-8.

"This is really the first year they're getting back from COVID," Woodside coach Denny Falls said. "There was a coaching change and the girls sat around for a year. They're starting to play club volleyball again and that will make a difference."

Woodside has been led by senior Michaela Velleno and sophomore Arielle Bruk, who get the bulk of attack chances.

"It's like a younger sister looking up to her older sister and copying her," Falls said.

Woodside returns to PAL Bay Division play at Hillsdale on Tuesday.

Menlo-Atherton (8-9) split four matches in the tournament, beating San Mateo and University and losing to Los Gatos and Burlingame. The Bears, who play at Aragon Tuesday, placed second in the silver bracket.

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Menlo School claims title of own girls volleyball tournament

by / Palo Alto Online

Uploaded: Mon, Sep 20, 2021, 11:45 am

There were all levels of success Saturday inside Menlo School's gym, which hosted the Chris Chandler Invitational.

Menlo won the girls volleyball tournament with an exciting 25-21, 17-25, 15-7 victory over Hillsdale, which suffered its first loss of the season.

Gunn qualified for the gold bracket (championship round) and finished fourth overall. Menlo-Atherton reached the title match of the silver bracket and Woodside completed its stay in the tournament with an appearance in the bronze bracket final.

Good results for all involved.

"It was definitely exciting," Menlo senior Simone Adam said. "It's the first time we've won this tournament since I've been here."

Adam moved into the middle for the first time all season in the third set of the championship match, filling a void due to an injury. She recorded seven kills and three blocks overall.

"She came up to me and wanted to play the middle," Knights coach Tony Holland said. "She's done it before and what a great attitude to step up for the team."

The move helped equalize Hillsdale's height in the middle.

"I felt the defense was a little shaky in the second set," Adam said. "It's something I've done in the past but I'm an outside hitter. The biggest difference is you have more responsibility with blocking and it's a little faster in the middle."

Sophomore Cleo Hardin has been a pleasant surprise for Menlo this season. She recorded 31 kills, 10 in the title match, in helping the Knights (16-5) win four games. Surrounded by seniors, she's upped her game.

"She's improved more than I thought she would," said Holland.

Overall, Adam had 23 kills and seven blocks on the afternoon. Senior setter Hanna Hoffman had 61 assists, 15 kills, 11 digs and five aces. Senior Sharon Nejad finished with 26 kills, senior Zoe Gregory had 56 assists and senior Hallie MacDonald added 15 digs.

Junior Brooke Dombkowski had 17 kills and 23 digs for Menlo, which returns to West Bay Athletic League play at Notre Dame in San Jose on Tuesday evening.

"It's nice to win a tournament but I see it as another step in the overall development," Holland said. "Hillsdale was a big challenge and as good as we've seen. They played great defense."

Gunn (8-8) beat Aragon 25-23, 26-24 and Sir Thomas More 25-5, 25-11 to reach the gold bracket and then fell to Menlo 25-15, 25-16 and SCVAL De Anza Division rival Los Gatos 25-22, 25-22. The Titans just lost a league match to Los Altos in five sets earlier in the week.

"I think it went relatively well," Gunn senior Valeria Werbrouck said. "We have things to work on and these were challenging teams. I think, for the sophomores on the team, this is a good accomplishment."

Sophomore Celine Safa agreed.

"I think we showed what kind of team we could be," she said. "This is my first year on a good volleyball and I'm getting a lot of great experience playing with older players. I'm learning a lot."

Added sophomore Sophia Yen: "It shows the importance of practice and challenging ourselves. I don't think anyone expected us to get this far. I'm proud of the team."

Gunn hosts Palo Alto in a league match Tuesday at 6:45 p.m.

Woodside (5-7) beat Moreau Catholic twice in three sets during the tournament, a learning experience in itself.

In pool play, the Wildcats pulled out a 25-23, 23-25, 15-10 win. Woodside its bronze bracket match with Moreau Catholic 25-15, 19-25, 15-8.

"This is really the first year they're getting back from COVID," Woodside coach Denny Falls said. "There was a coaching change and the girls sat around for a year. They're starting to play club volleyball again and that will make a difference."

Woodside has been led by senior Michaela Velleno and sophomore Arielle Bruk, who get the bulk of attack chances.

"It's like a younger sister looking up to her older sister and copying her," Falls said.

Woodside returns to PAL Bay Division play at Hillsdale on Tuesday.

Menlo-Atherton (8-9) split four matches in the tournament, beating San Mateo and University and losing to Los Gatos and Burlingame. The Bears, who play at Aragon Tuesday, placed second in the silver bracket.

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