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Indians, Knights back in semis

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POSTED November 17, 2009 2:53 a.m.

For the fourth straight season, in-town rivals Ripon and Ripon Christian are in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s final-four round.

And for the third straight season, both could end up at UC Davis — the site of the section’s championship matches.

Ripon (37-9), the No. 3 in Division IV, will host No. 7 Summerville (24-3) tonight in a battle of conference titleholders. In the Division-V bracket, No. 10 Ripon Christian heads to Auburn to face No. 6 Forest Lake Christian (16-9) in an unlikely semifinal showdown based on seeds.

Ripon head coach Larry Keethe said that the four best Division IV teams are still left despite Summerville’s seed. Last Thursday, Summerville easily swept No. 2 Vacaville Christian to allow Ripon to host a third straight postseason match.

On the other end of the bracket is four-time defending champion Christian Brothers and Trans Valley League rival Escalon.

“It would have actually been a huge upset had Vacaville Christian won,” Keethe said. “Summerville is a lot better, but Vacaville Christian got a good seed because they went undefeated in a weak league.”

Keethe’s Indians are TVL champions for the fourth straight season, while Summerville went 14-1 to win the MLL. Both teams have big wins over Valley Oak League champion Sonora, which is in the Division III semifinals.

Summerville, ranked 17th overall in the section according to Maxpreps.com, is led by 5-foot-10 junior middle blocker Rachel Dunlap and 5-7 senior outside hitter Corinne Brick. Brick is one of just three seniors on the team.

Ripon is loaded with playoff and club volleyball experience with Sonoma State-bound middle blocker Ashley Robinson, senior front-row standouts Lauren Feddersen and Cheyann DePrue and junior setter Kelsey Johnston.

But Keethe said his team can’t get comfortable with key players nursing a variety of ailments.

“Any team can have a bad game, and I think all of them will be tight,” Keethe said. “I don’t care if it’s 27-25, I just want to win that game. We’re not built to go five games because of our injuries and sicknesses. We want to get it done with.”

Forest Lake is one of two teams out of the Central Valley Christian Conference in the Division-V semifinals, the other being No. 5 Woodland Christian. Forest Lake and Woodland Christian both went 9-3 in league play, with Vacaville Christian going undefeated for the title.

Forest Lake does have won big victory under its belt, a five-game thriller against top-seeded Bradshaw Christian.

Senior middle hitter Morghan Pomeroy leads the Falcons. Kelsey Tillema is the lone senior in Ripon Christian’s starting lineup that includes two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman, but the Knights are on a roll after battling through a tough TVL schedule that includes Ripon and Escalon.

Ripon Christian won the last two Division V titles and owns the most in section history with 12.

To contact Jonamar Jacinto, e-mail jjacinto@mantecabulletin.com, or call (209) 249-3538.

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