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Indians unfazed after dropping 1st set to Escalon
VB--Escalon-Ripon pic 1
Samantha McCreath blasts one of her 21 kills for Ripon through the Escalon block on Thursday. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

RIPON — Ripon fell behind early in its first set with visiting Escalon on Thursday and ended up dropping that first game before rebounding to win the next three for a 22-25, 25-16, 25-15, 25-17 win over the Cougars to start Trans-Valley League play. 

“We lost that first set, and I told my girls I wasn’t worried for a second,” Indians coach Erin Cutino said. “I knew we were going to rally back.”

Ripon (1-0 TVL, 4-1 overall) closed from 14-22 to 22-24 in the first set, but could not quite get it done.

“We rallied back at the end of that first set,” Cutino said. “I told them to take that momentum that we had at the end of that game and carry it through to the next.

“I knew they were on board with that and ready to do that.” 

After five ties in the second game with the last at 6-6, the Indians went on a 9-2 run and road the hot hand of Samantha McCreath to a 25-16 win. McCreath finished with 21 kills, a block and an ace.

“This match she (Lauren Weibe) was setting me tight the way I like it,” McCreath said. “As a hitter I can tell when that set is perfect – you can just feel it and you know it is going to be good.”

Weibe posted 43 assists for Ripon. 

“Our team was communicating really well,” Weibe said. “I got a lot of good passes from the back row.

“Almost all the passes were perfect and I would just set them up and the front row would finish the job.”

Weibe also had some offense of her own, getting five kills.

“And when the passes were off or I saw the other side open, I placed it on the other side for the kill,” she said. 

The second and third sets ended the same way – on one of Madison McCreath’s nine kills.But the game-ending kill on the third set came on an assist from sister Samantha McCreath in the back row.  

“To tell you the truth, I really did not even know what the score was,” Madison McCreath said of the end of the third game. “I was just trying to do my job. 

“Then everyone got super excited.”

Ripon Libero Ashlyn Eisenga anchored the defense with 25 digs along with two aces.

“There is a lot of pressure when playing Escalon,” Eisenga said. “You have to be able to read and adjust because they are a great team and they can come back. 

“The pressure was on us in the back row and we were everywhere on the court.”

Breana Barrios added seven kills, three aces and two blocks for the Indians and Makayla Buie added four kills with Rachel Sausedo getting two aces.

The Ripon High gym had a playoff atmosphere to it, with Escalon (0-1, 1-7) traveling well and filling the stands with its football team. The Indians had a football game Thursday night, but that did not diminish from the Ripon cheering efforts.

“We knew our football team wasn’t going to be here,” Cutino said. “So we rallied for our students to be here – we got the band to be here – and we have a new band director who did an amazing job a hyped-up atmosphere.

“That really made a difference for us. They rallied behind us and that helped keep our momentum.”