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BATTLE TESTED

Ripon Christian rises to occasion vs. game Amador

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BATTLE TESTED

From left, Dani Erdelatz, Carly Tillema, Ellen Blankers, Teagan Manus and Andie Shelton get fired up after Ripon Christian scored the final point of its four-game victory over visiting Amador in a ...

Photo by SEAN KAHLER/


POSTED November 13, 2013 12:26 a.m.

RIPON — Except for two five-game thrillers with Turlock Christian, Ripon Christian was hardly tested in running the table for a fourth straight year in the Southern League.

That could have been detrimental for the seventh-seeded Knights on Tuesday, as they warded off upset-minded Amador in a competitive four-game win (25-19, 20-25, 25-22, 25-20) to start the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs.

“We haven’t had a very tough match in quite a while and you could tell,” Ripon Christian co-head coach Michele Shelton said. “Our girls would hit the ball hard and start cheering, and I’m going, ‘Wait, (Amador is) here for a reason. That ball is coming back.’

“We had to stay ready and track the ball. They are so used to just crushing the ball and it’s done.  (Amador) came to play tonight, and I think this was a good match to get us going.”

Ripon Christian (19-4) next travels to Trans-Valley League champion Hilmar, the tournament’s No. 2 seeded club.

The 10th-seeded Thundering Herd (16-12) from Sutter Creek proved to be no pushover as it tried to hand Ripon Christian its first opening-round loss since 2005. Middle hitter Dani Schoen got the Knights’ attention right away, crushing an overpass kill for the first point of the match. She and sophomore libero Sidney Walters gave the host team fits for the remainder of the match.

“Honestly, we didn’t know anything about Amador,” said Ripon Christian outside hitter Dani Erdelatz. “We kind of came in blind, but I think it was better that we didn’t know because we figured they were going to be good.”

It was Erdelatz who iced it for Ripon Christian, as she hammered home the last of her eight kills on the final point. The match appeared to be on its way to a fifth set after Amador started the fourth with a 6-0 lead.

Ripon Christian didn’t take the lead until standout setter Andie Shelton (16 assists, 9 kills), who was named to the Under Armour All-America Team last week, served up the go-ahead ace that made it 17-16. On the next play, Shelton quick set Amber Hilvers for a kill and the two-point advantage. Teagan Manus (11 kills, 24 digs) later helped RC ahead with a clutch kill of her own, and Amador was unable to recapture the lead.

 “It was very competitive,” Amador co-coach Don Shannon said. “We were seeded lower and the underdogs coming in, and sometimes players can be intimidated by that. They stepped up and played tough right until the end.”

Ripon Christian was pushed in every game it won. In the second set, Amador took advantage of RC’s seven service errors.

“That’s a killer,” coach Shelton said. “When you lose by five and have seven miss serves that’s hurts. Those are momentum killers.”

In the end, it was Ripon Christian that had to kill Amador’s momentum.

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