The 5-foot-9 junior put together a legendary final week of the season, which culminated in California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Northern Regional and State championships for Ripon Christian.
It started on Saturday, Nov. 12 at West Valley of Cottonwood. The Knights, seeded ninth and playing their third straight NorCal match on the road, came back from a two-set deficit to ground the No. 4 Eagles, 22-25, 23-25, 25-19, 25-16, 15-12.
Vander Veen, as she had been for much of RC’s postseason run, came through in crunch time, setting up match point with a kill.’ She finished with a season-high 38 kills (7.6 per set) on 74 attacks to go with 19 digs.
Ripon Christian got to play at home for the regional final on Nov. 15, hosting No. 11 Head-Royce. The Jayhawks from Oakland were dusted in the first two games but later threatened to send it to a fifth, mounting a nine-point lead in Game 4.
Vander Veen clutched up again, sending down 10 of her 23 kills in the fourth set to end it, 25-15, 25-19, 15-25, 25-21. She also racked up 14 service points, six aces and seven digs.
“She has an unquenchable competitiveness that is not going to lose,” Ripon Christian coach Kayla Kootstra said of her standout outside hitter after the match. “If that means that she has to get a dig, she’s going to get a dig. If that means needs an ace, she’s going to go for the ace. She has a really good volleyball IQ and the physicality to go with it, and she has definitely been a huge part of our success in this postseason.”
She wasn’t done yet.
In the state championship at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, Ripon Christian had a rematch with Visalia-based Central Valley Christian, the top seed out of the Southern Regional.
The Knights charged back from early deficits in the first two sets and rolled to a 25-19, 27-25, 25-17 sweep. Vander Veen was not as efficient as usual on the attack, totaling 19 kills (6.3 per set) and 10 hitting errors on 56 attacks, but she again came through when needed.
Her biggest play of the match, however, came on the defensive end. The Cavaliers were clawing back in the third set as RC jumped out to a big lead closed to within five, 18-13. Vander Veen swung the momentum back in her team’s favor with a hustle play after a wayward first touch sent the ball toward the press table, setting up a kill for Avery McMurray.
Fittingly, it was Vander Veen who closed the show — and the Knights’ remarkable season —with a kill.
Vander Veen finished with 566 kills on the season, third most in the state and No. 1 in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Ripon Christian ended with a 35-6 record and garnered its 18th SJS Division V championship. The NorCal and state titles are the second of each for the program.