By Andrew Preimesberger
Palo Alto Online Sports
Senior Katelyn Doherty and junior Pauli King provided a much-needed one-two punch for the Menlo-Atherton girls' volleyball team on Tuesday as the Bears rallied for an important PAL Bay Division knockout victory over visiting Carlmont on Tuesday.
Doherty had 17 kills, 27 assists and 22 digs with King contributing 17 kills and 30 digs as the Bears prevailed, 24-26, 25-20, 26-28, 26-24, 15-13, while winning their 11th straight to remain alone in first place at 7-0 (13-5 overall) at the midway point in the season.
Carlmont, which was hoping to force a three-way tie for first place, instead fell two games behind M-A at 5-2 (10-10) in into third place behind Burlingame (6-1).
"We have some good, experienced volleyball players on this team," said Menlo-Atherton first-year coach Ron Whitmill. "Paulina King and Doherty have been doing a good job of being leaders and picking up the slack."
The first game was a seesaw battle as both teams were scoring back and forth on kills by Doherty and King. Carlmont senior Kallan Bedard started off with seven kills in Game 1. Bedard had a solid game as she matched her career high with 29 kills.
The Bears stepped up in Game 2 when King, a junior outside hitter, spiked the ball passed the Scots' Amelia Tupou, giving M-A a 25-20 win to tie the match.
After Carlmont won Game 3, M-A was up 25-24 when sophomore outside hitter Alyssa Ostrow spiked the ball to Tupou, who double hit it and gave the Bears the win. Ostrow finished with nine kills and 26 digs.
The Bears' defense came up big in the fifth game. Bedard spiked three balls that went out of bounds, giving the Bears the 4-1 advantage. With the Bears up 12-11, Whitmill called a timeout, stopping a Carlmont rally.
"I told them to stay aggressive," said Whitmill. "In the games we've lost, we got a little tentative late into games. It's not so much about winning or losing, but focusing on the process of playing your ballgame."
After the timeout, the Bears got a clutch spike by King that deflected off Carlmont's Tupou, giving M-A the 15-13 game win and 3-2 comeback win.
"Credit to Carlmont, they did a good job," said Whitmill. "When teams show up and play that well against you, it brings out the best in you."
In the West Bay Athletic League (Foothill Division), Menlo School cruised to a 25-22, 25-19, 25-16 over host Castilleja to improve to 4-0 in league (15-5 overall) and remained tied for first place.
The Knights finished with a team hitting percentage of .302 while collecting 10 team aces, 48 digs and 10 blocks.
"We had a solid effort tonight from just about every part of our game," said Menlo coach Atlee Hubbard.
Menlo setter Elisa Merten led the team in digs with 12 along with 28 assists and four aces. Junior Maddie Huber finished with a team-high nine kills, followed by Morgan Dressel with eight.
Lucy Tashman led Castilleja (0-4, 11-12) with 16 kills and 10 digs.
Menlo plays at co-leader Sacred Heart Prep on Thursday at 6:15 p.m. in a match where he winner will take over sole possession of first place. A $5 donation at the door will be used to support the Peninsula Bridge program.
Sacred Heart Prep (4-0, 19-2) had its scheduled nonleague match with St. Ignatius cancelled.
In the SCVAL De Anza Division, Palo Alto's winning streak in division came to an end, as did the Vikings' hold on sole possession of first place following a 25-13, 18-25, 25-21, 25-19 loss to host Los Gatos.
The setback ended Paly's division win streak at 21. The Wildcats were the last team to beat the Vikings in league play, that coming in 2010 at Los Gatos. That was the only setback Paly suffered that season during a 41-1 campaign that ended in a CIF Division I state championship.
The current Vikings are now 6-1 in league (17-4 overall) and in a three-way tie for first with Los Gatos and Homestead.
Senior Shelby Knowles had 15 kills with junior Becca Raffel and sophomore Jade Schoenberger adding eight kills for the Vikings. Senior Sophia Bono finished with 35 assists with sophomore Anna Dukovic adding 11 digs.
Elsewhere, host Gunn dropped a 25-21, 25-10, 25-23 decision to Monta Vista. Lena Latour had 11 kills for the Titans (2-5, 9-10).