RIPON — Ripon coach Erin Cutino knows that the competition will be gunning for her Indians this year.
An undefeated 12-0 Trans-Valley League campaign in 2016 led to a 24-5 overall record, a Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship and a first-round win in the NorCal championships.
Cutino is ready for whatever this year brings her way.
“I accept the challenge of having a target on our back,” Cutino said. “Even though we lost a lot of seniors we have a lot of good girls coming up and a really great supporting cast. I am just really excited to see what they are going to do this year.”
Ripon came back from a 2-1 deficit to win the final two sets against Hilmar for the blue banner behind a phenomenal 47 kills from Sam McCreath who had a triple-double with 21 digs and 13 blocks. McCreath had 11 kills in a 15-1 rally to end the fourth set and force a fifth.
“I don’t know if we can ever top that Hilmar game,” Cutino said. “I mean every team is going to have its story and it is going to have a journey. That was an amazing team with an amazing season but now we are going to have to look forward with a new team and a new season.
“We have to start a new journey with these girls and they are going to have to help themselves.”
While the size of McCreath and Breana Barrios may be gone, Cutino is looking for quickness from returning seniors Jessica Stanley, Makayla Buie and junior Mia Van Lewen. Stanley clinched last year’s section title when she served up an ace for match point against the Yellowjackets.
“We are going to be more versatile this year,” Cutino said. “We are not going to be big, but we are going to be fast.
“It will be a different game plan, but it will be fun.”