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Burrell, Ripon ace first postseason test
Trans-Valley League rival Escalon awaits in quarterfinals
Ripon High middle blocker Alyssa Leslie challenges the spike of West Campus Michaela Collins. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

RIPON – Paige Burrell spent time in practice on her volleyball serves.

The work paid off for the Ripon High junior against West Campus of Sacramento. In the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs on Tuesday, she delivered nine aces including six at one point in the second set.

“With good serves, you can really dictate the tempo of the game,” said Burrell.

As a result, the Indians (16-14) swept West Campus, 25-23, 25-19, 25-21.

Ripon will play Trans Valley League rival Escalon on Thursday.

“We’ve already lost to them twice,” said Indians coach Adrienne Uecker, who has high hopes that her team on this third go-around.

“They’re not going to beat us a third time,” she added.

Against West Campus, Uecker was pleased with the effort of her middle position players. Included were Chelsea Ioppini and Alyssa Leslie.

“They really stepped it up,” Uecker said.

Ioppini had a six blocks, three kills, two aces and a dig. Leslie had four blocks along with four kills and a dig.

In addition, Lizzy Nizzoli came through with seven kills, four blocks, five digs and 22 assists. At times, she caught the Warriors by surprise with her no-look tip shots.

Burrell had eight digs while Paige Horwood finished with five kills, two digs and a block.

Leslie and Nizzoli helped Ripon to an early 7-3 lead in the first set. Horwood stepped in with a pair of kills and Burrell served two aces as the Indians made it 12-7.

But West Campus (21-9) climbed back, taking advantage of the Ripon hitting errors and tying things up at 17-17.

The Warriors went ahead, 21-19, on Mariah Vincent Lilly’s ace and kill.

Ripon rallied, scoring on a service fault. Couple that with a kill by Horwood and an ace by Bridgette Gall, who helped deliver the game-point with her hustle play that kept the ball in play.

On the return volley, West Campus handed the Indians that opening set on a hitting error.

Ripon jumped out to a 12-3 lead in the second game behind the serving of Burrell, who came through with six aces during that stretch.

“Paige went on a real nice run,” Uecker said.

The Warriors made a modest run to trim the lead to 15-9, with Christina Fang dropping in a pair of aces.

But Gall got Ripon back on track with her two aces. Ioppini had an ace while Leslie had a kill and block, and Horwood, on the game-winner, also delivered a kill.

Down 2-0 in the playoff match, West Campus jumped out to a 7-1 advantage in the third set. But the Indians slowly whittled away at the lead. Burrell had two aces, Nizzoli scored twice on kills, and Loppini managed a block and kill.

Ripon tied the set at 14-14 on Emily Brutout’s ace. Nizzoli then scored on a kill to put her team on top, 15-14,

West Campus, behind the play of Kiana Reyes and Michaela Collins, climbed to within a point, 21-20.

The Indians finished strong as Siera Daggett and Ioppini both scored on kills. The latter was good for match point.

Ripon was thrilled at being back in the playoffs.

“We know it’s a different game (from the regular season),” said Burrell. “We have to be focused at all times and come ready to play.”