Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - November 1, 2013

Menlo girls clinch titles in two sports

The Menlo School girls volleyball team waited until the final match of the 2012 regular season to forge a tie for first place in the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) with rival Sacred Heart Prep. That won't be the case this season.

Not only has the title been decided early, the Knights won't have to share it.

Menlo wrapped up sole possession of the division crown on Tuesday night with help from Castilleja. While the Knights were defeating visiting Mercy-San Francisco, 18-25, 25-13, 25-17, 25-14, the Gators were knocking off second-place Sacred Heart Prep.

Thus, with two road matches remaining, Menlo (8-0, 24-5) has a three-game lead over SHP (5-3, 19-9) and Castilleja (5-3, 15-9).

Maddie Huber recorded a team-high 17 kills and had nine digs to help Menlo rally past Mercy-SF. Fellow senior outside hitter Maddy Frappier had 14 kills and nine digs.

Seniors Melissa Cairo had 11 digs and Morgan Dressel and Kate Gilhuly combined for 13 kills. Junior Elisa Merten finished with 26 assists and senior Sloan Cinelli added 14 for the Knights.

While Menlo was putting itself in position to clinch, Castilleja made it possible by completing its first-ever season sweep of Sacred Heart Prep with a 26-24, 19-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-11 victory.

Katya Scocimara led Castilleja (5-3, 15-9) with 20 kills with Madeline Johnson and Sarah Rose adding 12 each. Jessica Norum provided 25 digs and Jennifer DiSanto contributed 52 assists.

Sacred Heart Prep got 17 kills and 14 digs from junior Victoria Garrick with junior Natalie Marshall providing 48 assists while Jane Meehan added 13 kills.

Elsewhere in the WBAL Foothill Division, Priory remained winless in the division and dropped to 13-10 overall following a 25-18, 25-18, 25-21 decision to host Harker. Marine Hall-Poirier led the Panthers with 21 kills while Jane Ross added nine.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto remained in second place following a 25-13, 25-8, 25-17 victory over visiting Monta Vista.

Senior Becca Raffel had 13 kills, four aces and hit .407 for the Vikings (7-2, 18-5) with junior Anna Dukovic adding eight kills and hitting .538. Senior Keri Gee had 17 digs and freshman Jessica Lee provided 21 assists, with senior Sarah Limb adding 15.

At Gunn, the Titans hung tough after a tough first-set loss and defeated visiting Los Gatos, 23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 15-11. The Titans (4-5, 9-11) had a strong team effort and were led by Erica Johnston and Meghan Mahoney, each with nine kills.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton held on to a share of second place following a 25-19, 25-22, 25-11 win over visiting Hillsdale. Paulina King had 15 kills and 12 digs for the Bears (9-2, 17-8) with Devin Joos adding 11 kills and 12 digs. Virginia Lane had 21 digs while freshman Kirby Knapp contributed 40 assists and 12 digs.

The Bears were coming off a tough 24-26, 25-23, 26-24, 25-15 loss to nationally ranked Valley Christian last Friday. King and Joos combined for 35 kills, Lane had 27 digs and Knapp finished with 38 assists.

Cross country

Gunn senior Sarah Robinson has run in seven cross-country races this season and won all of them. That makes her a heavy favorite for individual honors at the SCVAL El Camino Division Championships on Tuesday at Crystal Springs in Belmont.

Robinson, however, will not go into the girls' varsity race (3:30 p.m.) at the 2.95-mile layout as the defending champion. In fact, she didn't event compete last season.

Robinson was dealing with some physical problems last year and missed the league finals. Without her, Gunn finished fourth.

The story will be quite different this time around as Robinson leads a young, talented and deep squad coached by Olympian PattiSue Plumer.

The Titans made their final tuneup before the league meet a good one by easily winning the annual Palo Alto City Championships on Tuesday on the 2.18-mile Bol Park course at Gunn.

With Robinson running the second-fastest time ever on the course (11:49.6) while winning by nearly 50 seconds, Gunn finished 1-3-4-6-7 for 21 points without its best lineup. The girls' course record is 11:41 by Tori Tyler in 2004.

The Titans' No. 2 runner, sophomore Gillian Meeks, ran in the first of two varsity races and won comfortably in 12:47.1.

Trailing Robinson was Gunn freshman Claire Hu in third (12:48.4), sophomore Maya Miklos in fourth (13:10.7), freshman Shannon Yang in sixth (13:17.5) and freshman Illi Garnder in seventh (13:20.8).

Palo Alto sophomore Bryn Carlson (12:38.5) and junior Katie Foug (13:16.7) prevented a Gunn sweep by finishing second and fifth, respectively. The Vikings were second in the team race with 43 points while Castilleja was third with 78. Senior Alina Brown led the Gators with a ninth-place finish of 13:46.1.

In the Junior-Senior boys' race, Palo Alto junior Lucas Matison cruised to victory in 10:59.3, but Gunn took six of the next seven spots and won the team title with 21 points. Paly was second with 38.

Gunn finished 2-3-4-5 behind the efforts of Thomas Rasmussen (11:24.7), Antonio Puglisi (11:31.4), Kushal Nimkar (11:33.0) and Noah Krigel (11:33.9). Paly junior Jake Gurle then beat two Gunn runners to the finish line as he took sixth in 11:38.8.

Paly actually had the second-fastest boy on the day, Kent Slaney, but the freshman ran in the frosh-soph race. He won easily in 11:15.3 to break the previous freshman course record of 11:37.0 by Paul Summers in 2006.

Slaney will rejoin his varsity teammates for Tuesday's league finals, which go off at 4:15 p.m.

Girls tennis

Menlo clinched its 20th straight league title, the 18th under head coach Bill Shine, with a 7-0 blanking of visiting Sacred Heart Prep on Tuesday. The Knights improved to 9-0 in the WBAL Foothill Division and 20-1 overall. The triumph also was Menlo's 207th straight in league play, an ongoing state record.

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