For Palo Alto girls' volleyball coach Dave Winn, this week's schedule appeared to offer the toughest back-to-back matches of the season in Presentation and Sacred Heart Prep.
The Presentation match would be a match-up of the Division I and II state champions of 2011 while Thursday's showdown at Sacred Heart Prep provided a look at last year's Division IV state runner-up.
For Winn and his Vikings, it's one down and one to go following a rousing 25-19, 13-25, 20-25, 25-21, 15-11 nonleague victory on Tuesday night in Paly's gym.
"It was . . . AWESOME!" said Winn. "I was so proud of my team last night. They showed a lot of resolve and poise to withstand the storm of offense and defense that Presentation threw at us. Pres is a very good team, well-coached by someone I totally respect (Sue Dvorak) and they took it to us in the second and third sets."
Freshman setter Jessica Lee received kudos from Winn as she produced 47 assists and 13 digs while guiding the Vikings.
"Jess Lee was incredible," Winn said. "I had to keep reminding myself that she's only a frosh. She played for Vision 14 Gold, which silver-medaled at JOs last season. So, she's certainly had some big-time matches but, obviously, not at the varsity level . . . until last night."
Senior Becca Raffel was the recipient of many of Lee's assists as she produced 25 kills. Junior Jade Schoenberger added 11. Schoenberger added four aces while senior Keri Gee finished with 25 digs, with Raffel adding 17.
Down 13-7 in the fourth set, in a must-win, situation, Schoenberger rattled off nine consecutive serves to pull Paly out of the tailspin and force a deciding fifth set. Both teams traded some nervous errors early on, but the Vikings never trailed in the final set on the way to a 15-11 clincher.
Other solid performers for Paly included senior Lauren Kerr, junior Anna Dukovic and sophmore Claire Dennis.
Palo Alto (6-1) hit .232 as a team and held Presentation to just .210 as a squad.
Next up for Paly will be Thursday's nonleague match at Sacred Heart Prep at 6:30 p.m.
The Gators, the defending Central Coast Section Division IV champs, saw their perfect season end Tuesday night in a 25-17, 25-11, 25-23 nonleague loss to Valley Christian. The Warriors are ranked No. 8 nationally by prepvolleyball.com and were coming off winning the championship at the Milpitas Spikefest I on the weekend.
It was a combination of SHP losing eight seniors off last year's state runner-up team and Valley Christian simply dominating with its height -- the Warriors featured three players at 6-foot-3 or taller plus two 5-11 back-row players, including setter Kirsten Mead of Palo Alto. She had 11 kills, 14 assists and hit .647.
Sacred Heart Prep (2-1) got 17 kills and 18 digs from Victoria Garrick, seven kills and three blocks from Ara Peterson and 28 assists from Natalie Marshall.
In other nonleague action:
Menlo-Atherton (1-1) got 20 kills from Pauli King and 17 from Alyssa Ostrow in a 25-22, 24-26, 24-26, 25-21, 15-12 come-from-behind win over visiting Los Gatos.
Virginia Lane produced 33 digs for the Bears with Ostrow adding 21, Kaitlin Tavarez contributing 17 and freshman Kirby Knapp adding 10 plus 46 assists.
In Millbrae, Priory senior Marine Hall-Poirier had 15 kills, seven digs and five aces to pace the Panthers (2-0) to a 25-21, 25-17, 26-16 nonleague win over host Mills. Michaela Koval added 16 digs with Liz Schilling finishing with seven. Riley Gallivan had a solid match with 20 assist and seven digs.
In Palo Alto, Castilleja (4-2) got 13 kills from Jessica Norum and 12 from Sarah Rose in a 23-25, 27-25, 25-23, 25-19 nonleague loss to visiting Burlingame.
Gunn's Sarah Robinson opened her senior season with a dominating victory at the first SCVAL league meet of the year at Crystal Springs in Belmont.
Robinson toured the hilly 2.95-mile course in 18:30.2 to win overall honors. The meet held races in each grade category, with Robinson taking the senior race while running the fastest time of the day.
Gunn's Emily Aiken finished seventh overall in 20:10.5 and teammate Megan Kuhnle was 19th in 21:15.7 to help the Titans finish fourth in the overall team scoring with 91 points. Mountain View won the team title with 66. Palo Alto finished 10th with 265.
In the boys' combined results, Palo Alto freshman Kent Slaney was 14th overall in 16:59.4 and helped the Vikings to a fourth-place finish with 155 points. Gunn was fifth with 175.
Castilleja opened its home season with a big 6-1 nonleague win over Menlo-Atherton. Paulette Wolak, April Chien and Celeste Woleshyn set the tone by taking the top three singles matches while the Gators' doubles tandems were equally impressive while sweeping.