RIPON — It pays to work out.
Two years ago, Ripon High’s Sam McCreath started to incorporate CrossFit into her workouts for volleyball. Tuesday night McCreath might as well have been making a CrossFit commercial.
The Indians senior pounded out 21 kills – including three from the back row – to lead top-seeded Ripon to a 25-13, 25-10, 25-9 sweep of No. 16 Orestimba of Newman in opening-round action of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Volleyball playoffs at Ripon High.
“We looked at their stats and we knew we couldn’t underestimate them,” McCreath said. “Because in playoffs you ever know how a team is going to come out or what kind of momentum they are going to have.
“So we knew we had to come out and jump on them fast and keep our momentum up so they did not take us to four games.”
After leading pillar to post in the first game, the Indians (20-4) fell behind the Warriors (18-16) 6-1 in the second set. McCreath got the serve back with one of her intimidating kills and Breana Barrios (four kills, three blocks) took it from there.
Barrios went on a 10-0 service run – punctuated by four aces – and Ripon never trailed again.
“Aces help our team out a lot,” Barrios said. “It keeps our intensity up and we needed that because I think our intensity was down a little bit.
“I just stayed back there and focused because I knew it was important to get my serves over the net.”
Barrios was not the only one with a hot hand from the service line. Deven Stokes, a recent call-up from the sophomore squad, went on an eight-point service run in the third game with four aces. McCreath got the other four points on kills, including one of her three back-row kills.
“It was pretty fun to come up to varsity,” Stokes said. “I wasn’t really expecting it because I don’t play club or anything.
“I thought this was a great opportunity to improve.”
Lauren Wiebe had 21 assists for the Indians, and she was set up many times by the hustling play of libero Ashlyn Eisenga (three aces) who had 16 digs.
“We did not want to let the ball hit the floor,” Eisenga said. “That was our goal.
“We met our goal and now we are ready for the second round of playoffs.”
Madison McCreath had two aces to go with five kills.
While the outcome of Tuesday night’s game was never in doubt, Ripon coach Erin Cutino saw the game as a step in her team’s journey.
“We have been focused on preparing for sections the whole year,” Cutino said. “That was really important for us. And they are ready for this. They are laser-focused and they are ready to do their jobs.
“Our back row does an awesome job. Our libero, Ashlyn Eisenga, is one of the best liberos in the game right now. She is holding down our back row perfectly and setting up our setters which allows our front to do their job.”
Sam McCreath also had two blocks and two aces.
“Sam had a lot of power tonight,” Cutino said. “She was putting the ball down great. But everyone took part in it and did their job alongside of her.”
The Indians face eight-seeded Calaveras at home Thursday at 7 p.m. in a second-round contest.