Another water polo showdown for Gunn, Paly boys


While the SCVAL De Anza Division won't be decided, the outcome of Thursday's showdown between rivals Palo Alto and Gunn should go a long way in deciding this season's regular-season champion in boys' water polo.

The matchup not only brings together the top two teams in the division, but once again matches brothers Brandon and Matt Johnson -- the head coaches at Paly and Gunn, respectively.

Matt is 1-0 against his brother this season, a victory that opened the division season and catapulted the Titans into first place. Gunn has remained there ever since and is 6-0 in league (9-6 overall) heading into the showdown following a 16-10 dunking of host Monta Vista on Tuesday.

Coby Wayne led Gunn with seven goals while brother Ari added four. Christian Znidarsic finished with three goals as the Titans continued one of their finest seasons since Matt was a standout goalie eight years ago for Gunn.

Palo Alto (5-1, 15-3), meanwhile, kept pace with a 9-5 victory over visiting Los Altos. Sam Kelley led the Vikings with three goals with fellow senior Will Mendenhall adding two.

A Paly win over host Gunn on Thursday (6:45 p.m.) will throw the race into a two-way tie while a win by the Titans will give them a two-game lead with five matches remaining.

In girls' water polo Tuesday, Gunn maintained its hold on first place with a dominating 21-1 dunking of host Lynbrook. Caroline Anderson, who scored 15 goals in two SCVAL De Anza Division wins last week, added six goals to her season total as the Titans improved to 6-0 (10-4). Senior Rachel Wong finished with four goals while sisters Natasha and Bianca Batista each tallied three goals.

The Titans will host Palo Alto on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. The Vikings (2-4, 4-10) dropped an 8-4 decision to visiting Los Altos on Tuesday.

Girls golf

Despite missing standout junior Anna Zhou, who had an afternoon test to take, Gunn posted a 212-225 victory over visiting Homestead and remained atop the SCVAL De Anza Division standings.

Senior Jayshree Sarathy led the Titans (10-0, 11-0) to their 20th straight league win (over two years) with a 1-under-par 33 at Palo Alto Municipal. Tiffany Yang shot 38, Lianna McFarlane-Connelly carded a 44, Sandra Herchen finished with a 48 and Margaret Redfield shot 49.

Gunn and second-place Palo Alto will meet on Wednesday (3:30 p.m.) at Palo Alto Muni with first-place and the Titans' win streak on the line.

In San Jose, Sacred Heart Prep (5-1-1, 5-2-1) kept its possible title hopes alive with a 227-234 victory over host Notre Dame-San Jose in West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division) action at San Jose Muni. Jessica Koenig and Sinead Haley each shot 42 to pace the Gators, who will take on first-place Castilleja on Monday.

Girls tennis

Menlo continued to roll in the WBAL Foothill Division following a 7-0 win over host Notre Dame-San Jose at San Jose State. The Knights (3-0, 13-1) won three matches by default as they won their 201st straight league match since 1994, an on-going state record.

In Palo Alto, Castilleja remained on a collision course with Menlo with a big 5-2 victory over visiting Sacred Heart Prep at Rinconada Park. The Gators improved to 3-0 in league (6-2 overall) and will host Menlo on Tuesday (3:30 p.m.) in the first of two head-to-head matches.

Paulette Wolak led a sweep of the singles for Castilleja with her 6-1, 6-3 win over Britt Schuman. April Chien battled for a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win over Tara Ritchey at No. 2 singles while Celeste Woleshyn won at No. 3, 6-4, 6-1, and Rose Crisman took No. 4, 6-0, 3-6, 6-2, over Kate Ackley.

In the PAL Bay Division, Menlo-Atherton (4-4, 6-9) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to host Hillsdale. The Bears were swept in singles, but took all three doubles matches behind the teams of Sally Carlson-Amanda Scandalios, Carolyn Kelly-Taylor Noble plus Julia Chang-Camilla Calmasini.

The Bears had a shot at victory when Laila Volpe even her match at No. 4 singles, but Volpe eventually dropped a 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 decision.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, host Palo Alto (4-2, 13-2) dropped a tough 4-3 decision to Saratoga while Gunn (1-5, 1-8) fell to visiting Lynbrook at Cubberley Community Center.

Paly, which was coming off a 6-1 nonleague win over Milpitas on Monday, was in great shape after Aashli Budhiraja (7-6, 6-0), Felicia Wang (6-2, 6-0) and Avanika Narayan (6-3, 6-1) swept the top three singles against Saratoga. The Vikings, however, suffered a rare sweep in doubles in straight sets. Palo Alto now trails Monta Vista (6-0) and Saratoga (5-1) in the division race.

Girls volleyball

Menlo-Atherton grabbed control of the PAL Bay Division race with a 25-18, 22-25, 26-24, 23-25, 15-9 victory over visiting Carlmont. The Bears improved to 5-0 in league (11-3 overall) while dropping the Scots to 4-1 (11-7).

M-A was led by junior Devin Joos, a junior transfer from St. Francis. She made her season debut a good one with 25 kills and 18 digs from her positions at outside hitter and opposite.

Pauli King added 13 kills and 22 digs for the defending PAL Bay and Central coast Section Division I champion Bears. Virginia Lane added 34 digs and freshman Kirby Knapp produced 51 assists and 11 digs.

In the SCVAL De Anza Division, junior Anna Dukovic had seven kills with no hitting errors, hit .412, produced nine digs and five aces to help Palo Alto sweep visiting Monta Vista, 25-21, 25-12, 25-10.

The Vikings (3-1, 13-4) also got 11 kills from Becca Raffel, nine kills from fellow senior Lauren Kerr, 12 digs from senior Keri Gee plus 22 assists from senior Sarah Limb. Paly had only 10 hitting errors in 106 attempts as nine different players contributed to the attack.

At Los Gatos, Gunn won the first set but then dropped three straight while suffering a 19-25, 25-16, 25-13, 25-14 loss to host Los Gatos in SCVAL De Anza Division action. The Titans (2-2, 6-8) play host to first-place Homestead on Thursday night at 6:45 p.m.

In the WBAL Foothill Division, Menlo School rolled past host Mercy-San Francisco, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21. The Knights (3-0, 16-4) got 23 kills from Maddie Huber, fellow senior outside hitter Maddy Frappier added 14 kills, Elisa Merten distributed 38 assists while Melissa Cairo picked up 14 digs and Jessica Houghton posted eight digs.

In Atherton, host Sacred Heart Prep suffered reportedly its first-ever loss at home to Castilleja, 24-26, 25-19, 20-25, 25-21, 15-12. Castilleja's last win over SHP reportedly came in 2007 at another site.

Katya Scocimara had 19 kills and 16 digs for Castilleja first-year coach Jacqueline Heler. Jessica Norum added 15 kills and 13 digs; Madeline Johnson finished with 11 kills, two blocks and two aces; Sarah Rose contributed 13 kills and two blocks and Jennifer DiSanto had 50 assists and 17 digs for Castilleja (1-2, 10-8). Elle Kass added 21 digs while Emily Pederson finished with three aces, three kills and three blocks.

SHP (2-1, 11-6) got 22 kills and 28 digs from Victoria Garrick, 18 kills from Ara Peterson, 48 assists from Natalie Marshall and 16 digs from Mamie Caruso.

In Portola Valley, Priory dropped its third straight to open the WBAL Foothill Division season following a 25-22, 25-16, 25-14 setback to visiting Harker. Marine Hall-Poirier led the Panthers (0-3, 13-6) with 22 kills, 10 digs and two aces while setter Riley Gallivan added 19 assists and five digs. Michaela Koval finished with eight digs and two aces for Priory.

— Palo Alto Online Sports


Like this comment
Posted by Barbara Schroder
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 10, 2013 at 7:42 am

Hats off to the Coaching excellence of Brandon and Matt Johnson leading Paly and Gunn to the top of the league in Boys' Water polo. Their younger brother Aaron coaches the F/S team at Paly and that team is undefeated in league play too! What an asset to have these talented coaching brothers in our PAUSD Water Polo community. Go Vikes!

Like this comment
Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:38 am

Congrats to Gunn no the 2nd league win over Paly.

But what the heck is going on with the G coach? 2nd red card in two weeks! I think that makes him ineligible to coach the team for the remainder of the season. And three players (2Paly, 1 Gunn) also ejected from the game.

Must have been quite a scene to witness.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 11, 2013 at 11:39 am

Typo... "no" s/b "on"

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Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 13, 2013 at 12:27 am

What happened was terrible referees, CPD. As I said before, the officials are whimsical and do not know the rules of water polo. This is the result. The league owes these fine players better than that. The three Johnson brothers are fine coaches. Oh, and please don't suggest again that I become a ref. Although I certainly know a bad one when I see one, I am the first to admit that I would not be a good ref myself. My eyesight is not good enough. However, I do a lot of work on behalf of students in this town, and I strive every day to be fair and impartial, unlike the water polo referees in this league. They are a disgrace to referees.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 13, 2013 at 5:50 pm

I wasn't there so I can't comment on the refs or anyone else's behavior since I did not see it first hand. However I do know who the two refs were - one is considered in the top 5 and the other in the top 10 for CCS. Given your opinion and in light of how you feel about the refs in this last game, I have to wonder if you think any ref is good enough.

I have to admit that I don't understand your criticism as Gunn won the game.

What rules did the referees not properly enforce? I'd be interested to know the details here.

I am assuming that the Gunn coach received a yellow card before the red card. Did the coach follow the rules that apply to him after receiving the yellow? After a yellow, he has to stay seated during play (CCS rule) and he can't say *anything* to the refs except ask for a timeout. If he made any sort of critical comment to either referee after getting his yellow, it's automatic red.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

CPD, Believe it or not, just because a team I might be rooting for wins, that does not mean I assume the referee did a good job. Being a good official is not about making one or another team win. In a game with good referees, the game will proceed with fair calls; players and coaches will play within the limits of the rules because if they step outside of them, they expect to be reined in by the officials. When this happens, the players are relatively safe, and the team that plays better will most often win. A game in which bad behavior is rewarded, and skilled play punished, will quickly devolve into a free for all. In this particular instance, the coach was seated, was speaking in a calm voice to his players, and was red carded. If these are the best referees available, as I have suggested, the players deserve better ones.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 15, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I've seen the incident report. The coach made comments to the referee. Further, in a meeting between the Gunn AD and the referees after the game - the AD acknowledged and did not dispute the incident/comments that caused the red card. If you were in the stands, I would say its highly probable that you didn't hear what the coach said to the ref. Doesn't matter really. It happened and the Gunn AD supports that fact.

But you should be happy to know that the league commissioner rescinded the red card "because he didn't curse." Never mind what the rulebook defines as a red card offense. This is not going over well with many of those involved in water polo.

I don't think the coach should have been suspended for the remainder of the season. But the standard 1 game suspension should have been enforced. This sends a bad message to all involved.

I'm still interested in any details of what wasn't fair and any rules were not enforced correctly. I don't know you at all - but it is not uncommon for a parent not to know the rule versus what they see in the water as fair. Not saying that is your situation, just my experience.

Serious question - have you had any referees that you approve of? Who/when?

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Posted by Parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Oct 16, 2013 at 10:43 am

CPD, I'm surprised by your tone. We'll have to agree to disagree. You reminded me that I am in the minority in wanting fairness, rather than simply for my side to win, whether they deserve it or not. Unlike you, I actually want players to do their best and be rewarded for that. Here is the problem as I see it: If a referee performs badly for what ever reason, there is no procedure for filing a complaint. If one does, the team will face retaliation in the game. If anyone should take issue with a referee, no matter how egregious their calls, others will assume it is the person with the issue who does not know the rules, or is simply seeking an advantage - both of which you have suggested I am doing here. This creates the Catch-22 in the current situation. Poor quality and biased referees go unchecked. Again, the players deserve quality, fair, consistent referees. I do know the rules. I also know that they are subjective in water polo. One man's brutality is another's no big deal - and a referee may use this to direct the outcome of a game. In this climate, players learn nothing useful. I have seen excellent referees. The one at the Gunn Paly game, who did not red card the coach, is one of the best in this area. That makes it even more surprising that he was involved. In fact, when teams from this area travel to Southern California, they are often at a disadvantage as the referees down there tend to be more consistent, and to know the game better. Rather than continue this dialogue with you, I will look for a way to promote better officiating in water polo. I do appreciate your putting your views out there. It helps me to understand the problem.

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Posted by Crescent Park Dad
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 16, 2013 at 9:33 pm


I guess my only other thought is that I think you may have unrealistic expectations of HS level officials. I'd be of one of the first people to say (out loud) is that HS officiating is not going be very good.

What you want is a 4-year college level official. There are only 6 or so college refs in the Bay Area. That's just not going to happen very often, if at all. Sorry.

And I would also offer that you may interpret as biased is more than likely a result of aptitude and ability. Nothing more, nothing less.

Good luck for the rest of the season.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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