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Playoff loss marks end of era for RC

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POSTED November 15, 2013 12:11 a.m.

By JONAMAR JACINTO

The Bulletin

Thursday marked the end of the Shelton era at Ripon Christian.

The seventh-seeded Knights had their moments but were ultimately outgunned by No. 2 Hilmar 12-25, 25-19, 24-26, 15-25 in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV quarterfinal.

Hilmar (37-3) hosts No. 3 Bear River in the semifinal round next Tuesday. Top-seeded Sonora and No. 5 Escalon will duke it out for a finals berth on the other side of the bracket.

It was the final match for Under Armour All-American and Pacific-bound setter Andie Shelton, who finished with 10 kills and 32 assists on Thursday. Fellow senior Teagan Manus blasted 14 kills to go with 14 digs, and Dani Erdelatz contributed 10 kills and 13 digs.

Michele Shelton, who shared head coaching duties with Kara Ledeboer, said she “will just be mom” next year as Andie enters college and son Tyson begins high school at Ripon Christian. Tiger Shelton, her husband, guided the team for nine years before accepting the head coaching position at Modesto Junior College.

“It’s been a good experience,” Michele said. “We had a wonderful time. I enjoyed it and will miss it.”

The team’s relative inexperience compared to that of high-powered Hilmar proved to be its undoing. The Knights played tight while 6-foot-2 sophomore Emily Baptista had her way at the net in the early going, and the Yellowjackets rallied for the final eight points of the opening set.

“The girls came in nervous in the first game,” coach Shelton said.

Ripon Christian (19-5) had its own big run to finish off the second set and make it a match. The underdog continued to trade shots with the Trans-Valley League titleholder in the pivotal third until the Knights faltered late. Whatever momentum RC had picked up from the Game 2 victory was gone.

“The youngness of the team showed late in the third game,” Shelton said. “I’m proud of them for how they fought. The opportunities were there, we just couldn’t put it away.

“In Game 4 we had to go to a 5-1(rotation) with Andie as our only setter for the entire game because our passing just wasn’t there. Hilmar was pretty much in control.”

Ripon Christian fails to reach a section final for the first time since 2006. The small-school powerhouse claimed five section titles in a row before getting moved up to the more grueling Division IV bracket last season when it advanced to the championship round as a No. 4 seed.

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