Menlo girls lose in CCS Open semis and the season goes on

Ashley Dreyer led the Knights with 17 kills. Photo by Pam McKenney/Menlo Athletics.

Menlo School’s run in the Central Coast Section Open Division volleyball playoffs came to an end Tuesday in a 3-1 semifinal loss to No. 1 seed Archbishop Mitty at Palo Alto High School.

But the season is most definitely not over. The best could be yet to come. All the Knights need to do is look at last last year.

Grace Enright
The 2016 Menlo volleyball team also lost to Mitty in the CCS Open, but then went on to win a state championship in Division IV.

As for Mitty, it went on to become the first state Open Division champion, beating the best Southern California had to offer.

So there’s no shame in losing to the Monarchs. It could even be an indication of good things to come.

“I don’t like to compare teams,’’ Menlo coach Marco Paglialunga said. “Last year we were a little more talented. But this year we’re playing better overall. We’re more consistent.’’

Mitty (32-5) won the first game handily 25-16. But Menlo (29-5) fought back and made the second set one to remember.

Menlo led 15-11, then saw the Monarchs make a sustained drive and go up 24-21, on the verge of making it 2-0.

Menlo battled back with a kill by Anna Guiragossian and two kills by Ashley Dreyer to knot it up 24-24. Finally, with Caroline Bradley serving, the Knights put together three winners to take the set 30-28.

Mitty jumped out to an 11-5 lead in the third set, but Menlo battled all the way back to take the lead at 20-19 before running out of gas as Mitty responded to take a 25-21 victory and a 2-1 lead.

The Monarchs were in control throughout the fourth set, winning it 25-18 to take the match and advance to the Open final.

“We were playing against a great team, much more physical than us,’’ Paglialunga said. “When they decided they wanted to close out the game there was no way to solve the situation, no way to compete with them. We rely on backrow skills. Playing a physical team like them we suffer. But that we are disappointed is a good sign.’’

Dreyer led Menlo with 17 kills. Grace Enright had 20 digs and Selena Xu had 26 assists.

“They’re good,’’ Mitty coach Bret Almazan-Cezar said. “They deserve to be in the Open. They play with a lot of energy.’’

Sacred Heart Prep (23-7) plays King City in Wednesday's Division IV semifinal at 5:30 p.m. at Scotts Valley.

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