Among the late arrivals from the school’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI champion boys basketball team, Cade Alger made an immediate impact for the Ripon Christian boys volleyball club.
The Knights were on their way to losing another three-set, nonleague defeat at Sierra just two days after getting swept by Livingston in their season opener — only this time Alger, Andrew Vander Weide and Braden Van Groningen were inserted into the lineup.
Their height across the net certainly helped, but it was their ability to quickly adapt to a new sport that helped them come from behind to win that match and, two months later, the Trans-Valley League championship.
Alger is the TVL’s Most Valuable Player and is joined by four other Knights — Vander Weide and Van Groningen included — on the all-league team. They powered Ripon Christian (8-0, 16-4 overall) to its third overall league championship in boys volleyball a sport that has returned to the decorated small school; the Knights earned their previous two titles in 1997 and 1998 before the team dissolved in the early 2000s.
Alger, a junior, is a 6-foot-8 guard for basketball with great potential as an outside hitter in volleyball — a sport he is not entirely unfamiliar with as his older sisters have starred on the Ripon Christian girls squad in recent years.
“Even though volleyball was a relatively new sport for Cade, his athleticism and drive to maximize his talent stood out,” Ripon Christian coach Kevin Tameling said. “Our practices were very competitive as he and his teammates pushed each other to improve. He was one of the best passers on the team, which allowed us to play him at outside hitter and give him a high volume of attempts.
“He was also incredibly coachable, always willing to absorb the more complex strategies of the game and constantly try new things.”
Tameling was named Coach of the Year, while junior setter Colton Silveira from runner-up Hilmar (6-2, Alger averaged 3.5 kills per set, finishing with a team-high 178 total kills to go with 34 aces, 19 blocks and 43 digs. Vander Weide, a 6-7 senior outside hitter, added 129 kills, and freshman middle blocker Van Groningen chipped in 72 kills and 21 blocks while leading the team with 55 aces.
Senior Mark Ozenbaugh paced the Knights with 27 blocks and is also on the All-TVL first team along with senior setter Dillon Zuidervaart (375 assists). Defensive specialist Tristan DeShields earned honorable mention.
Ripon (3-5, 6-15) has two all-league selections in senior libero Trent Hawes and senior outside hitter Michael Winters. Senior middle blocker Mitchell Ulrich received honorable mention.