The Menlo-Atherton girls' tennis team showed off its depth in the season opener. Instead of the usual 10-player lineup, the Bears and host Monta Vista-Cupertino each used a 14-player lineup as the coaches agreed to play two extra doubles matches.
M-A needed all 14 players, many needing to rally from a deficit, to beat the Matadors 5-4 in a nonleague match Thursday. Both teams are perennially among the best public school teams in the Central Coast Section.
The difference? Those last two doubles teams. After trailing in the match 4-1, the Bears needed minor miracles in the final four matches. They got them.
At No. 5 doubles, Michaela Llewelyn and Maya Khodabakchian, in their M-A debut, combined to tie the score at 4 and the No. 4 doubles team of Elise Kratzer, a returning all-league player, and Dana Lau fended off their Monta Vista counterparts to earn a 14-12 decision in the tie-breaker.
The top three Bears' singles players, perhaps the best trio in the area, all provided key victories. Julia Marks gave the Bears their first point at No. 2 and Lanie Van Linge added another victory at the top of the ladder in a 10-7 tie-breaker. Sophia Longo kept the rally going at No. 3 with a 12-10 tie-breaker.
Sacred Heart Prep opened its season with a convincing 25-11, 25-15, 25-19 nonleague victory over visiting Half Moon Bay on Thursday in a rematch from last year's Central Coast Section Division IV semifinal match.
Woodside also won its season-opener, beating host Gunn, 25-15, 25-19, 25-8, in a match of CCS Division II qualifiers.
Against the Cougars, four reliable returning players led the way. Senior outside hitter Cate Desler accumulated 15 kills and blasted five aces, middle blocker recorded Elena Radeff added seven kills, setter Haley Martella distributed 13 assists and libero Caroline Caruso recorded 15 digs.
The Gators compete in the Milpitas Spikefest I on Saurday.
Against the Titans, Woodside got all-around efforts from several players. As a team, the Wildcats hit at a .415 clip, led by Sarah Strus (8 kills, .500 hitting percentage, 3 aces), Nina Pagano (7 kills, .778 hitting percentage, 2 blocks) and Jennifer Buja (6 kills, .455 hitting percentage, 4 aces, 2 blocks).
Molly Buddie recorded 16 assists and three aces, splitting setting duties with Katia Kishinsky (11 assists). Senior Monica Klopp added three aces and a team-high six digs.
Woodside opens Spikefest I with Los Altos at 8 a.m. Saturday. Gunn hosts defending state Division IV champions Menlo at 6:45 p.m. Tuesday.
Girls water polo
With new coaches running both programs, it was visiting Palo Alto edging host Menlo-Atherton, 5-4, in a season-opening nonleague contest Thursday.
Sabrina Hall scored four goals to lead the Vikings. Sophie Frick also scored.
M-A's Natalie Knox scored a goal in the third period that tied the game at 3-all but the Vikings scored twice to take a 5-3 advantage into the final period.
The Bears had a chance to tie with 10 seconds remaining in the contest but Vikings goalie Esme Stotland blocked the final shot. She also saved a penalty shot in the final two minutes.
Maddie Maxwell scored three times for M-A and Cameron Bozdog made four of her saves in the first period when the Bears took a 1-0 lead.
M-A opens Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division play on Sept. 6, hosting Castilleja. Palo Alto travels to Menlo for a 7 p.m. game Monday.