Menlo girls win 200th straight league match

Bill Shine didn't say anything to his Menlo School girls as they approached state history in tennis earlier in the week.

"I don't want to get them nervous," he said at the time.

However, Shine did break the news after the Knights posted a 6-1 victory over visiting Harker on Thursday in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action.

"I finally told all the girls about the record after the match," Shine said. "Some of the seniors knew about it, but they all were pretty excited and proud."

The Menlo girls had every right to celebrate as they captured the 200th straight league dual-match victory in program history. The Knights are the first girls tennis team in state history to reach 200 consecutive wins in league play and haven't lost a league match since 1993.

Coincidently, Menlo broke the state record last season with its 192nd straight league triumph by also defeating Harker.

Thursday's match actually didn't start out that well for Menlo (2-0, 11-1) as junior Liz Yao lost at No. 1 singles, 6-0, 6-4. Her teammates made up for that rare loss as senior Christine Eliazo, freshman Alice Yao and junior Helena Ong all swept the final singles matches in straight sets. Senior Paulina Golikova and sophomore Melissa Tran wrapped things up with a 6-0, 6-3 win at No. 3 doubles.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto put itself in position to upset defending Central Coast Section champ Monta Vista before finally dropping a tough 4-3 loss.

The match was tied at 3 when the Vikings' No. 1 singles player Aashli Budhiraja was starting her third set. Budhiraja, who pretty much has been unbeatable this season, wound up dropping a 5-7, 6-3, 6-2 decision to Aiswarya Sankar as Paly (4-1, 12-1) saw its perfect season end.

Paly freshman Avanika Narayan gave the Vikings their only win in singles with her 6-2, 6-1 win at No. 3. Paly's No. 2 and 3 doubles teams (Hollie Kool-Kelsey Wang and Madeline Lee-Sarah Tayeri) lost their opening sets before rallying to win.

"Hollie and Madeline were both out sick days before, Madeline for two weeks," said Paly coach Andy Harader. "Amazing comebacks."

Monta Vista moved to 5-0 in league. The Vikings and Matadors will meet again on Oct. 24 at Paly.

In other tennis action:

Castilleja (2-0, 4-1) stayed tied with Menlo for first place in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 6-1 victory over host Crystal Springs. Paulette Wolak (6-2, 6-0), April Chien (6-2, 6-2), Celeste Woloshyn (6-4, 4-6, 6-4) and Rosie Crisman (6-1, 6-1) swept the doubles for the Gators.

In San Jose, Sacred Heart Prep (1-1, 5-4) posted a 6-1 victory over Notre Dame-San Jose at San Jose State. The Gators took three singles matches behind Britt Schuman (6-4, 6-1), McKenzie Lynch (6-0, 6-4) and Kate Ackley (6-1, 6-3).

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton posted a 7-0 victory over host Half Moon Bay and improved to 4-3 in league (6-8 overall). Sami Andrew and Caroline Kelly were pushed to a tiebreaker in singles while Lindy LaPlante and Amelia Tiemann each won in straight sets.

Cross country

The Menlo girls won the first WBAL meet of the season with two top-five finishes at San Bruno Mountain on Thursday. The Knights finished with 62 points, an eight-point advantage over runner-up King's Academy.

Menlo's Zoe Enright finished second with a time of 17:36.6, trailing only Niki Iker of Harker (17:10.0). Enright was easily the top sophomore. The Knights' Lizzie Lacy reeled in fourth with a time of 17:54.0, and was the second junior finisher. Menlo's Eliza Crowder was the top freshman, taking 12th overall, in 18:49.4.

Pinewood's Nicole Colonna was third in 17:46.3 while Hana Marsheck of Priory was sixth in 18:15.7 over the 2.8-mile course.

In the boys' race, King's Academy ran to victory ahead of Sacred Heart prep, Crystal Springs, Priory and Menlo. Daniel Hill of SHP was second in 15:16.7, Chris Gregory of Priory was third in 15:36.7, Ross Corey of Priory was fifth in 15:51.5 and Sasha Novitsky of SHP was seventh in 15:56.1.

Girls golf

Gunn remained unbeaten and atop the SCVAL standings with a 173-203 victory over host Lynbrook at the par-30 Deep Cliff Golf Course in Cupertino.

The Titans (9-0, 10-0), who won their 19th straight league match, were led by senior Jayshree Sarathy and junior Anna Zhou as both shot 1-over 31.

"They are both very competitive and always want to play their best," Gunn coach Chris Redfield said of his top two players. "I often play them in different groups to keep them from competing with each other."

Gunn also got a fine 33 from Tiffany Yang while Lianna McFarlane-Connelly and Sandra Herchen each shot 39. Paly has three matches next week to wrap up league play, including a crucial showdown with second-place Palo Alto on Wednesday at Palo Alto Muni.

In the WBAL Foothill Division, Castilleja maintained its lead with a 201-212 victory over Harker at Palo Alto Muni. Nicole Mitchell fired a career-low 3-over 37 and tied for medalist honors with teammate Chloe Sales and Harker's Kristine Lin. Castilleja improved to 6-0 in league (6-1 overall). Castilleja's Paris Wilkerson shot 42 and continues to show weekly improvement while Frances Hughes played her usual steady game and shot 45.

Girls volleyball

Menlo School defeated host Priory, 25-9, 25-11, 25-17, in a West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) girls' volleyball match on Thursday. The Knights (2-0, 15-4) were led by senior outside hitter Maddie Huber, who posted 10 kills, hit .500 and had five aces. Middle hitter Olivia Pellarin finished with nine kills and four blocks. Maddie Stewart added kills and hit .300.

Elisa Merten recorded 22 assists and three aces while Sloan Cinelli pitched in with nine assists. Libero Melissa Cairo had a pair of aces and 11 digs while Laura Halprin added an ace and four digs.

The Knights, who last week defeated nationally ranked Valley Christian and Sacred Heart Cathedral, moved up to No, 42 in's national rankings. Only Mitty and Granite Bay rank higher among Northern California teams.

Priory (0-2, 13-4), meanwhile, fought hard but could just not get it going due to tough serving and solid play of Menlo. Marine Hall-Poirier led the Panthers with 13 kills and 13 digs. Michaela Koval had 11 digs and setter Riley Gallivan had 16 assists.

In Atherton, Victoria Garrick had 15 kills and 23 digs to pace host Sacred Heart Prep to a 25-22, 25-23, 25-13 victory over visiting Mercy-San Francisco in WBAL (Foothill Division) action. The defending division champion Gators (2-0, 11-5) also got eight kills and four blocks from Ara Peterson while Natalie Marshall finished with 36 assists and 13 digs. Mamie Caruso

had 17 digs and two aces.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Becca Raffel provided 13 kills and Jade Schoenberger added 12 kills to pace Palo Alto to a 25-22, 25-16, 23-25, 25-22 victory over host Mountain View. Lauren Kerr and Anna Dukovic added eight kills each as the Vikings improved to 2-1, tied for second in the division, and 12-4 overall.

"We survived a tough one at Mountain View tonight," said Paly coach Dave Winn. "They were scrappy and passed well. We made an uncharacteristically high number of unforced errors, but managed to do just enough to win in four."

Boys water polo

Gunn held on to first place in the SCVAL De Anza Division with a 10-5 victory over visiting Mountain View. The Titans (5-0, 8-6) got five goals from both Christian Znidarsic and Coby Wayne while goalie Tony Zunino came up with 15 saves.

"Yeah, today was huge," said Gunn coach Matt Johnson. "Great win against a good team."

In nonleague action, Harrison Enright tossed in five goals to pace host Sacred Heart Prep to a solid 16-3 dunking of Menlo-Atherton on Thursday. Michael Swart and Nelson Perla-Ward each added four goals as the Gators improved to 10-1.

Girls water polo

With senior Caroline Anderson scoring five goals, Gunn rolled to an easy 14-3 victory over visiting Saratoga in SCVAL De Anza Division action. The Titans (5-0, 9-3) held on to first place by blanking the Falcons in the second and fourth quarters. Erica Watkins and Bianca Batista each added three goals for Gunn.

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports


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