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Decorated prep career ends for RCs well-travelled setter
Andie Shelton, celebrating a point in an SJS Division IV playoff match with visiting Amador, was more of a leader in her fourth varsity season on Ripon Christians volleyball team. - photo by Photo By Sean Kahler

Born into a volleyball family, the sport was destined to take Andie Shelton places.

Just this past summer alone she went sightseeing in Rome, competed in an international tournament in Croatia, stayed at former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer’s house and played on the sands of the Southern California coast.

“It was hectic but super fun,” said Shelton, the Manteca Bulletin’s All-Area Volleyball MVP for a third consecutive year.

Still, there is no place like home, and home is where she will be for college. The Pacific-bound setter will actually be closer to her folks in Stockton, where they reside, while in college. For now, Shelton will relish her remaining days at Ripon Christian.

“I’m a homebody,” she said. “I love being with my family.”

Her parents, Michele and Tiger, have followed her every step. Not that she would ever want to, but Andie can’t escape the watchful eye of mom and dad, who have doubled as her coaches at every level.

Michele and Tiger coached the Northern California Volleyball Association’s high-performance squad that traveled to Pula, Croatia for the 9th Annual European Global Challenge in July. Joining Andie were twin sisters Gianta and Katrin Gotterba — her club teammates and former Ripon Christian Elementary classmates who now prep at St. Mary’s — and Ripon High grad and Sonoma State junior Ashley Robinson.

NCVA placed seventh, Shelton was named to the all-tournament team and they visited Italy’s historic capital city.

“When we got home I had jet lag like nobody’s business,” Shelton said. “I had a four-day break from volleyball, which was actually nice.”

Then it was back to business.

Shelton stayed in the South Bay for a few days to train and get acquainted with Maddie Dilfer, the daughter of ESPN NFL analyst Trent Dilfer. Maddie is heading to Notre Dame after leading Valley Christian (San Jose) to the CIF Division III state championship. They were preparing for a brief tour of the beach volleyball circuit.

“Our clubs have been playing against each other for years now, so we have known each other for a while,” Shelton said. “This last year they came up and said Maddie was playing beach volleyball and needed a partner. We had never played together, so it took a while for us to get used to each other. We ended up winning the last one we played.”

The Dilfer-Shelton tandem entered five California Beach Volleyball Association events in a two-week span, starting at Santa Cruz, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach and Doheny. They took first at Pismo Beach on Aug. 3. It was a good pairing. Both are considered two of the nation’s top setters but with outstanding all-around ability.

The madness continued for Shelton during the high school season.

In early November, she was named to the 8th Under Armour All-America Second Team. A week later, she officially made good on her commitment to Pacific on National Signing Day.

And soon after, her career at Ripon Christian was over.

On the same day that she signed, Shelton led a valiant effort at Hilmar in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs. Hilmar — a team with superior size, talent and all-around club experience — warded off the Knights in four sets. The Yellowjackets would end up placing second in the section tournament and reached the semifinals in NorCals.

It marked the end of the Shelton era. Tiger Shelton was RC’s head coach for nine years, with Michele serving as an assistant for the final four. He led the Knights to five straight SJS Division V titles (2007-11), the latest of which landed the program a section-high 15th banner. Kara Ledeboer and Michele were co-head coaches this past season as Tiger accepted a coaching position at Modesto Junior College.

Last year, RC was bumped up to the more competitive Division IV bracket, and though it failed garner another section championship it reached the final round for a sixth straight season. Andie, the competitor that she is, expected to make it back to UC Davis for one last shot at it. But even she realized that the odds were stacked heavily against her team, which had only three returning players and little year-round club experience.

“From Day 1 so many people doubted us,” Shelton said. “They thought we wouldn’t win league again or even make the playoffs. We were kind of a Cinderella team. Even though we did not go as far as I had hoped, we still proved people wrong.”

Ripon Christian settled for a fourth straight undefeated run through the Southern League, and coaches Shelton as the conference MVP for a third time. She was the team leader in kills (181), aces (37), total blocks (27) and assists (202). The Knights went 17-9 overall.

“It’s crazy. It just happened so fast,” Shelton said. “Time goes by so quickly. It feels like just yesterday when I was an 11-year-old girl begging my parents to let me play. Now, I’m a senior in high school.

“It’s been a really great four years,” she added. “I am so glad I ended up going to Ripon Christian. I got to play with a lot of great girls and I have so many people to be thankful for. I’m going to miss it.”