Sports

Palo Alto comes up big in volleyball win over Menlo

 
Palo Alto had plenty to smile about after beating Menlo on Thursday night. Photo by David Hickey.

Coming off a 3-0 loss Wednesday night to St. Ignatius the Palo Alto volleyball team was fired up and ready to go Thursday against local rival Menlo School.

Paly got momentum going its way early and never eased up, pinning a 25-21, 26-24, 25-16 defeat on the defending Division IV state champions.


Siena Brewster/Karen Ambrose Hickey
“For sure it was our best match of the season,’’ said first-year Palo Alto coach Daniele Desiderio. “Yesterday we didn’t play good versus St. Ignatius. This is what we are looking for in terms of consistency and finding our identity.’’

Palo Alto (3-2) led throughout a close first set and opened an 18-13 lead in the second set. Menlo ran off five in a row to tie 18-18 on a kill by Grace King and was in position to tie the match with a 24-21 lead. But the Vikings came back to tie on a kill by Chelsea Fan and took a 25-24 lead on another kill by Fan. Isabella Marcus and Fan then combined on a block for the deciding point as Paly took a 2-0 lead.

“We wasted the advantage we had in the second game,’’ Menlo coach Marco Paglialunga said. “We were not able to close that game. After that we lost our momentum.’’

Fan, a 5-foot-9 outside hitter who showed excellent jumping ability and variation on the tempo of her shots, led Palo Alto with 10 kills.

“She’s a very skilled player and leader of our team,’’ Desiderio said. “She’s a perfect captain.’’

Siena Brewster also had some kills at crucial times.

“She’s a very physical, athletic kid who has made a nice transition from middle blocker to right side,’’ Desiderio said.

Another key for Palo Alto was the utilization of two setters. Julianna Roth had 18 assists while Tanli Su had 11. Libero Susannah Limb had eight digs.

For Menlo (6-3), Selina Xu had 10 kills, Sianna Houghton had eight digs and Kristin Sellers came up with 16 assists.

“They played a really good game and deserved to win,’’ Paglialunga said. “We showed our limits. This was a good lesson for us.’’

In other matches, Sacred Heart Prep rallied form a two-set deficit to beat host Aragon 12-25, 27-29, 25-22, 25-9, 15-13 on Thursday.

Cate Desler led the Gators (9-2) with 27 kills. Ally Polverari added 21 kills and Haley Martella contributed 48 assists. Libero Caroline Caruiso added 20 digs.

Sacred Heart Prep, along with a host of other schools, will be competing at the Chris Chandler Tournament at Menlo over the weekend.

Surprising Eastside College Prep won its fifth straight to open the season, beating host Alma Heights Christian in five sets. Priory swept visiting Summit Prep.

Girls golf

Castilleja Gators withstood cold, windy conditions to post a 200-273 victory against Notre Dame Belmont at Palo Alto Hills on Thursday.

Niav Layton continued to lead the way, breaking par again with a one under 35. Freshman Kelly Yu, playing the tricky course for the first time, posted a nice 39. Co-captain Anika Tse is rounding into form, shooting a fine 41. Following closely behind in the team scoring were Divya Tadimeti (42) and Alyssa Sales (43).

Low scorer for Notre Dame Belmont was Avani Tumuluri (44).

Casti (3-0) plays Wednesday at Palo Alto Hills against Sacred Heart Prep.

Palo Alto won the Helen Lengfeld Memorial Central Coast girls' golf tournament on Tuesday at Peninsula Golf and Country Club in San Mateo because every golfer did just enough.

The Vikings edged St. Francis, 396-297, to win the team title. Valley Christian placed third with a round of 410.

Gunn, Menlo and Sacred Heart Prep all finished in the top 10 while Menlo-Atherton was 14th.

Paly's Stephanie Yu shot a 75, the second-best score of the day to the five golfers who finished with a 74. Madison Pineda added a 78 and Katherine Sung went 79.

Lydia Tsa shot a 76 to lead Gunn while Gianna Inguagiato shot a 78 to leade Menlo, which played without top golfer Sophie Siminoff.

Sacred Heart Prep's Shauna Eng and Menlo-Atherton's Joanne Yeh each fired an 86.

Girls tennis

Sacred Heart Prep survived another match without its top singles player Sara Choy, who continues to recover from a lower body injury.

Isa Robinson and Katherine Salisbury each came up big at No. 2 and No. 3 singles, each winning a tiebreaker after dropping the first set.

The dependable Gators' doubles teams also shined. The No.1 duo of Nathalie Rotenberg and Emily McGrath won a tiebreaker while the No. 3 doubles team of Sara Quinlan and Emma Tung won in straight sets.

Madeline Page and Anya Yakimenkco each won a singles match for Palo Alto.

Elsewhere, Menlo-Atherton opened PAL Bay Division action with a 7-0 victory over visiting Half Moon Bay. The Bears won their 44th consecutive regular-season match as singles players Michaela Llewelyn, Dana Lau, Katie Donahue and Bailey Lenz provided victories. Donahue and Lenz each won in three sets.

M-A competes in the Golden State Classic at Stanford and has a match scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday.

Castilleja lost at Salinas 5-2. The top doubles teams of Mabelle Pasmooij and Roxana Scott and Lexi Bundy and Simran Sandhu gave the Gators their victories.

Castilleja heads to the coast to take part in the Santa Catalina tournament Friday and Saturday. Pinewood is also entered.

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