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Indians one win from NorCal Finals

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Kelsey Johnston, right, and the Ripon Indians hope to get one more shot at Erika Cuevas (9) and five-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV champion Christian Brothers in the NorCal Champio...

Bulletin file photo/

POSTED November 27, 2009 12:57 a.m.
Fortunes have followed the Ripon High volleyball team for the majority of its 2009 season, but the squads’ blessings took new heights when its second-round opponent, Notre Dame High of Salinas, knocked off No. 2 seed Salesian, handing the Indians home court advantage for the CIF NorCal Championship match Saturday.

“It was huge getting that home-court advantage,” Ripon head coach Larry Keethe said. “We were lucky to get it because a second place team beat a first place team, but then again we were a second place team, yet our win wasn’t luck at all.

“It will be nice playing in front of the home crowd.”

Ripon (38-10) will likely have its hands full with a momentum-riding Notre Dame team coming off a huge upset five games over the No. 2 seeded team in the northern half of the bracket. Salesian had lost only seven times on the season, and Notre Dame’s season-closing victory over the Pride surely did not come on accident.

“They are a good team,” Keethe said. “Notre Dame is a good team, Sacred Heart’s a good team, Salesian’s a good team, we’re a good team and Christian Brothers is a good team. I think that is a deep as it goes and we are right there.”

Ripon finds themselves one win away from a NorCal finals berth, if it is able to outlast the Spirits. Notre Dame will make the lengthy trip from Salinas in hopes of extending its season. The Indians don’t feel their season is still alive by mistake, eliminating the cliché of just being happy to still be playing.

“I don’t think the coaches or the girls are satisfied just to be where we are,” Keethe said. “We won’t be satisfied until we meet Christian Brothers and beat them. Even though Sacred Heart is good enough to beat Christian Brothers, I personally want Christian Brothers to win.”

A win from both programs would give Keethe his wish, with Christian Brothers being the No. 1 seed garnering the host privileges. The Dec.  1 showdown would clearly be a match to see, but Ripon has business to handle Saturday before those aspirations can become reality.

The Pride (28-6) have lost just two of their last 10 matches, making Ripon’s task of continuing a banner season arguably their toughest challenge to date.

“To beat Notre Dame all we have to do is play our game,” Keethe said. “It begins with passing and serving for us. Blocking is important, hitting is important and setting is important, but it really begins for us with the pass.

“If we can get the pass, we’re really hard to stop.”
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