Central Coast Section Division I champion Menlo-Atherton extended its season Tuesday with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-22 win over visiting San Ramon Valley in the first round of the Northern California playoffs.

The Bears will play at No. 1 seed St. Francis of Sacramento on Saturday in the NorCal semifinals.

"We have a lot to prove," said junior outside hitter Pauli King. "We're going to have to work really hard. I think we have a shot if we come out with a lot of fire and don't play timid.''

All three games with North Coast Section runner-up San Ramon Valley were extremely close throughout with Menlo-Atherton getting a small lead and holding on. The Bears built their biggest lead of the third game at 24-18 before SRV, with sophomore Rachel Braunschweig serving, drew to within 24-22. But a kill by senior outside hitter Ali Spindt closed it out and gave M-A (28-7) the sweep.

"We were in the match, it was what we expected,'' SRV coach Brian Fujinaga said. "But their outside hitters are fantastic.''

King, who turned 16 Monday, led M-A with 10 kills and 15 digs. Spindt had seven kills and 27 digs, Katie Doherty six kills and 25 assists, and libero Virginia Lane had 24 digs.

Emily Reder had 18 kills and 20 digs for San Ramon Valley (31-11). Katherine Claybaugh contributed 14 kills and 21 digs while setter Nicole Powers had 29 assists and 12 digs.

The Wolves led on several occasions in the second game, the final time at 20-19. But M-A closed it out with a 6-2 run.

The biggest lead in the first game was four points by M-A on a couple of occasions, the final time at 21-17. SRV tied it 23-23 on soft placement kill by Powers. But M-A closed it out on a kill by King and a serve by King that SRV was unable to handle.


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Division II: Archbishop Mitty (35-0) downed visiting Pleasant Valley (19-18) from Chico 25-4, 25-15, 25-8. Heather Lowell led Mitty with seven kills and sophomore Natasha Kosowicz chipped in with five. Also for Mitty, Anne Marie Schmidt had 15 digs and Casey Tierney had four aces.

The Monarchs will host Las Lomas-Walnut Creek (37-7) at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Division I: Sabrina Clayton finished with 26 kills, including one at the end of the match that sealed host California's 26-28, 25-22, 25-11, 23-25, 18-16 victory over Homestead-Cupertino (24-10) in a first-round match.

California (30-3) led two games to one and had a 14-7 lead in the fourth game. But Homestead came alive late in the fourth game and sent the match to a deciding fifth game on a kill by Casey Carroll.

With the fifth game tied at 16, a hitting error by Homestead gave the Grizzlies the lead before Clayton finished the match.

Staff writer Matt Schwab contributed to this report.