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Ripon looks to snap losing streak vs. CB

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POSTED December 1, 2009 3:58 a.m.

Perhaps the ninth time will be the charm for Ripon High.

The Indians will face Sacramento powerhouse Christian Brothers in the Northern California finals of the CIF State Division IV Championships for the second straight year tonight.

The winner faces the Southern California champion, either La Jolla Country Day or The Bishop School, in the state finals at noon Saturday at UC Irvine.

Christian Brothers was swept by Santa Fe Christian in last year’s Division IV state title match.

Ripon has developed quite the rivalry with Christian Brothers over recent seasons, but it’s been a one-sided affair.

Ripon dropped eight straight to the Falcons since 2006, including the last four Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title matches, last year’s state semifinal and three non-league contests.

The Indians have gotten closer to beating their nemesis, as three of their last four ended in five games. Ripon, in fact, took the first two games of last year’s NorCal finale before falling.

And in this year’s section championship showdown Nov. 19, Ripon climbed back from a two-games-to-none deficit and even held a 9-5 lead in the fifth game.

History is on Christian Brothers’ side, but Larry Keethe said his players have grown increasingly confident since their last meeting.

“Most of our team from last year graduated, so most of the girls on this year’s team didn’t go through a lot of those (losses to Christian Brothers),” Keethe said. “I don’t think history haunts them as it did the last group.

“They want to win bad.”

Ripon’s run through NorCals has been impressive, starting with a sweep of Northern Section champion West Valley (Cottonwood) on the road, and a four-game victory over Notre Dame Salinas at home Saturday.

After cruising past Sutter, Christian Brothers edged out Central Coast Section champion Sacred Heart Prep in five.

Christian Brothers is led by 6-foot middle blocker Katie Hoekman, 5-9 outside hitters Erika Cuevas and Jessica Jones and 6-4 middle blocker Megan Anders.

Ripon counters with 6-1 middle Ashley Robinson, 5-11 middle Lauren Feddersen and hard-hitting 5-9 outsides Coryn Hernandez and Cheyann DePrue. Three-time varsity starter Kelsey Johnston, a junior, is a good all-around player but primarily sets for the Indians.

What may play a factor for the Indians is health, which hasn’t hampered them too much so far. Robinson and Hernandez were two of three players that missed Monday’s practice with illnesses.

“It seems like it’s going through the team like three or four at a time,” Keethe said. “But I’m sure they’ll want to play.”

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