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UC Davis meet Ripon volleyball

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POSTED November 19, 2009 2:06 a.m.
Neither squad has anything to prove.

They have played for Sac-Joaquin Section titles and won them, just as they have walked off the court as the runner up. Now these two highly-respected programs will lift the city of Ripon onto their shoulders and stroll into the UC Davis gym in search of a section banner.

“At the beginning of the season my personal expectations were high,” Ripon High head coach Larry Keethe said. “The team was also pretty confident way back then. We opened with that High Sierra Invitational right off the back and did pretty well.

“That was only our second week, but it gave us a lot of confidence.

The Indians have danced to this song before and the team has enough senior leadership to know what to expect. Ripon will be playing for its fourth consecutive section crown, but a victory today would be the programs’ first since 1983. If the squad is going to change the course of recent history they’ll have to open the match with strong play.

“All we have to do is be ahead or even with them early on,” Keethe said. “I’m pretty sure that Christian Brothers thinks that they’re going to wipe the floor with us.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Ripon Christian has more section titles than some programs have players, dominating throughout the past two decades. The Knights’ now have the challenge of topping the No. 1 seed Bradshaw Christian Pride. Ripon Christian was not its league champion like the Pride, and they surely don’t have a perfect road record like them, but even though no one saw it coming Bradshaw Christian will have to go through the Knights for its first volleyball section title in over 20 years.

“I don’t know their history so I don’t know exactly when they’ve won,” Ripon Christian head coach Tiger Shelton said of Bradshaw Christian. “But I do know that it is their year. This is the year that they’ve been counting on and they have a great group of seniors. They have to look at a 10-seed and say they’re just a 10-seed.

“But I am pretty sure they know we’ll be ready for them.”

Both squads have already earned a berth into the CIF Volleyball Championships that will get underway beginning Nov. 23, reiterating how impressive a run it has been for both squads. With a victory in the championship match the likeliness of the two Ripon programs hosting a CIF first round contest raises tremendously.

Both teams will make the trek to UC Davis in hopes of playing their best match of the season. A season that has rolled on for four months will make arguably its most important stop of the season. A flawless match will land a section title, yet the trip to the finals has already revealed true champions.

“I told my girls that it is a win-win situation for them,” Shelton said. “I told them that the court was the same size as our court, the net was the same height as our net and we just have to go into this game and put things in perspective. Most of them have never been in a situation like this, so they’ll go through their jitters I’m sure.

“If they don’t, God bless them.”
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