KENTFIELD – The Ripon High volleyball team is good – very good – but unfortunately, the Indians found out on Saturday what great was.
Ripon won the first set of its second-round CIF Northern California Volleyball Division IV Championship contest Saturday with Branson of Ross before the five-time state champion Bulls swept the Indians in next three games for a 3-1 win at College of Marin.
“I knew we had the capabilities of getting this far,” Ripon coach Erin Cutino said. “But as you keep seeing better and better competition you realize how lucky you are to keep going. There are a lot of great teams out there and you hope your girls can battle and step up every single time and they did that all season long so we have to be proud of that.”
The Indians were the only public school of eight teams to get out of the first round.
“We were the only public school team left on our side of the tournament,” Cutino said. “And there is something to be said about that. I am extremely proud of my girls because they worked extremely hard to get to this point. They deserved to make it this far.”
The first set was tied eight times with the last time at 24-24. Following a timeout by Cutino, Breana Barrios (five blocks, ace) then got one of her 13 kills and Emily Qualle finished it with a block.
After that, Ripon (24-5) had just three one-point leads the rest of the night.
Sam McCreath had six of her team-high 17 kills in the first set including three in a row to close a 15-12 deficit to a tie at 15-15.
“After the first set we lost momentum, we stopped talking, we missed a lot of serves and just made too many errors,” McCreath said. “But to get here was just so amazing – I wouldn’t ask for any better way to go out then to win section and league championships.”
As she had all season, Lauren Wiebe was busy dishing up assists and she had 30 on Saturday.
“I don’t know if Ripon volleyball has ever made it this far,” Wiebe said. “And winning sections was a huge accomplishment for us but we were looking forward to going further than this but it didn’t happen.
“We played as hard as we could and we left it all out on the court.”
Ashlyn Eisenga chipped in 23 digs for the Indians and Madison McCreath had six kills and two blocks.
On the way to their five state championships, the Bulls (23-11) have won eight North Coast Section championships and Branson coach Michelle Brazil credits her defense for her team’s success, and a defensive slump for Ripon’s first-match win.
“I think we came out a little bit flat and I think they came out pretty fiery,” Brazil said. “We were missing some blocking assignments and we were not starting as tough as we normally do.
“Normally our defense is kind of our best quality and we were not doing so well with it our first game, so we made the change and started getting a little tougher by picking up our defense a little bit. Then we were able to play a little more of our kind of volleyball and make it a little bit harder for them to score.”