The Homestead High girls volleyball team has struggled against Palo Alto in recent years, but that trend is changing.
The Mustangs Thursday beat the Vikings for the third consecutive time – a streak that began in last year’s playoffs – to sweep the season series. The 19-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-21 victory enabled Homestead to gallop to the top of the SCVAL De Anza Division standings.
“We executed a plan and won,” said coach Gary Carroll, who – like four of his players – lives in Los Altos.
The plan involved keeping Palo Alto “out of system,” according to Carroll, by spreading the ball around on offense. Homestead used “a plethora of hitters to keep them guessing,” the coach added, figuring the Vikings wouldn’t be able to defend every spot.
The plan didn’t work at first – visiting Palo Alto won the initial game by six points – but it proved effective the rest of the way.
“We kept Paly out of system in games 2, 3 and 4,” Carroll said. “I was proud of the way (Homestead) executed down the stretch; no fear, no tipping, no panic – just swings to win.”
The Mustangs’ hitting percentage (.350) for the match more than doubled that of the Vikings’ (.139).
Carroll noted that senior outside hitters Megan Robinson and Casey Carroll (the coach’s daughter) “did their damage from the pins” with 19 and 14 kills, respectively, “but the real spark came from Connor Bunka in games 2, 3 and 4.” The junior hit more than .700 from the right side in those games, finishing with 10 kills.
Another junior, defensive specialist Olivia Poulos, “gave us a real lift off the bench in games 2, 3 and 4,” Carroll added, citing the Los Altos resident’s high energy, back-row play and consistent serve.
The win boosted the Mustangs’ record to 13-7 overall and 6-1 in the De Anza Division, putting them just ahead of Los Altos (5-1) and Palo Alto (5-2).
The Mustangs are scheduled to host last-place Monta Vista 6:45 p.m. Thursday.
Eagles roll on
Los Altos fell from first place without losing a match last week – the Eagles had a bye Thursday – but the team is just .024 percentage points behind Homestead, which it beat two weeks ago. The squads are set to play again 6:45 p.m. Tuesday at Los Altos.
The Eagles are off to one of their better starts – 21-3 overall after winning a pair of matches last week. They swept rival Mountain View in De Anza Division play and King’s Academy in a non-league match.
Los Altos subdued the Spartans 25-15, 25-13, 25-23 Oct. 15 on the road. Michelle Albright led the Eagles with 12 kills and Carmen Annevelink had 11, while Hanna Koehler recorded 23 assists.
A day later, visiting Los Altos clobbered King’s 25-14, 25-10, 25-8. Annevelink notched nine kills and Joyce Christiansen-Salameh posted 23 assists.
Lancers paste Presentation
St. Francis stymied Presentation Oct. 16, beating the visitors 25-22, 25-15, 25-22 in West Catholic Athletic League action.
Alex Espinosa, who recently returned from injury, produced 12 kills for the Lancers (2-1 league, 19-10 overall).
Panthers split a pair
Pinewood went from sweeper to sweepee last week. Two days after putting the broom to San Jose, the Panthers were swept by Mercy-Burlingame.
Pinewood pasted host San Jose 25-20, 25-7, 25-13 in a nonleague match Oct. 15 behind 22 kills from Mehra den Braven.
Mercy-Burlingame then beat the Panthers 25-18, 25-23, 25-14 Thursday in West Bay Athletic League Skyline Division play, despite den Braven’s 21 kills.
Pinewood dropped to 3-4 in league and 10-9 overall.
Spartans’ struggles continue
Mountain View followed its loss to Los Altos by getting swept by Los Gatos Thursday. The Wildcats prevailed 25-23, 25-15, 25-19.
Elyse Fitzsimons paced the Spartans (1-6 league, 5-15 overall) with six kills and four blocks. Megan Robinson added four kills, three blocks and three aces.
Against Los Altos, Rosa Lutz led Mountain View with six kills.