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Road trips ahead for Manteca, East Union; RC back in Division V

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Road trips ahead for Manteca, East Union; RC back in Division V

East Union’s Janika Gomes spikes it into the block of Manteca’s Kaitlyn Morenzone, and Destanie Elliott (10). The city rivals are hitting the road for their first-round playoff matches next Tuesday...

File photo by SEAN KAHLER/

POSTED November 5, 2015 1:16 a.m.

It has been four years since East Union and Manteca have made the playoffs for volleyball, and their reward for ending that skid are road trips to opposite ends of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s borders.

Next Tuesday, No. 11 Manteca (15-8) travels south to face No. 6 El Capitan (17-7) of Merced in Division III, while No. 13 East Union (17-8) ventures 100 miles north to fourth-seeded Yuba City (23-7). 

Also on Tuesday, No. 5 Ripon (17-9) opens Division IV play with Liberty Ranch (21-8) of Galt. Ripon Christian (17-14) drops back down to Division V and plays host to No. 12 Golden Sierra (15-10).

East Union gets the stiffest first-round challenge among area teams. Yuba City won the competitive Tri-County Conference for a third straight year. The Honkers figure to be contenders in Division III after descending from D-II because of their enrollment. They’re led by a trio of four-year varsity players in 5-foot-11 outside hitter Lauren Danna (4.6 kills per set), 5-9 setter/opposite Katie Covey and libero Allyson Reines.

Manteca’s opponent, El Capitan, has already qualified for the postseason twice as a second-year varsity squad. Last week, the Gauchos ended Los Banos’ four-year reign of the Western Athletic Conference. They’re anchored by 6-foot middle Ariana Johnson and 5-10 Makenzie Webber.

Christian Brothers and El Dorado are the top two seeded clubs in Divsiion III, and Valley Oak League champion Oakdale is fifth. 

Ripon is one of three Trans-Valley League teams to be awarded top-six seeds in Division IV, joining No. 2 Hilmar and No. 6 Escalon. The big favorite in this division once again is No. 1 Sonora, which would likely be the Indians’ semifinal opponent should they make it past their first two road blocks. 

Liberty Ranch placed third in the Sierra Valley Conference.

Ripon Christian returns to Division V after spending the last three in the more competitive Division IV. The Knights were promoted after capturing five straight D5 banners under Tiger Shelton, who has returned as head coach this season. He guided them to their sixth straight Southern League title, but they’re looking to regain their status as one of the top small-school teams at the section level. The first hurdle is Golden Sierra of Garden Valley, which took third in the Sierra Delta League. A win likely sets RC up with a rematch against No. 4 Big Valley Christian, which won a competitive five-set in a nonleague match.

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