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Ripon Christian stars rise started at early age

Middle Blocker of the Year

Mikaela Alger, Ripon Christian senior: Three-year varsity player was a part of Knights’ five-year reign in the SJS Division V playoffs. Her 272 kills (3.3 per game) and 95 blocks (1.2 per game) are ranked among the section’s best.

Outside Hitter of the Year

Morgan Alger, Ripon Christian senior: The other half of Ripon Christian’s tandem of 6-foot twins produced 250 kills (3.0 per game) to go with 53 blocks. Both Alger sisters were named to the all-SL team.

Setter of the Year

Lizzy Nizzoli, Ripon junior: Slowed early in the season by a wrist injury, the Modesto Christian transfer sparked the Indians in the TVL season with her setting prowess and all-around stellar play.

Defensive specialist

Paige Burrell, Ripon junior: Second-year varsity player averaged eight digs per game to lead SJS players and finished with 496 overall in the regular season. Also dangerous from the service line, she paced the Indians with 36 aces.

Utility Player of the Year

Brittany Petlansky, Ripon Christian junior: The starting libero as a sophomore, Petlansky made her presence felt on the front row despite standing at 5-5. She was one of four Knights with at least 200 kills (225) while coming up with 337 digs.

Middle blockers

Teagan Manus, Ripon Christian sophomore: Stepped up big when veteran middle Cassidy DeRousse went down with a season-ending ailment, finishing second on the team with 87 blocks to go with 116 kills.

Sierra Tailes, East Union senior: Transfer from rival Sierra was the top all-around player for the Lancers, tallying 85 kills, 32 blocks, 53 digs and 20 aces in 14 league matches.

Outside hitters

Paige Horwood, Ripon senior: Third-year varsity player wrapped up her career as Ripon’s top hitter in 2011, hammering 121 kills and 2.1 per game.

Julia Martinez, Manteca junior: Promising 6-footer was the hardest hitter in the area, leading the Buffaloes with 139 kills (1.7 per game).

Defensive specialist

Kaylie Colyn, Ripon Christian sophomore: 447 digs (5.5 per game) is ninth most in the section, and her emergence allowed incumbent libero, Petlansky, to take on a larger role.


Regina Dias, East Union sophomore: One of just two area players named to the all-VOL first team, Dias handed out 182 assists in conference play.

Samantha Morris, Manteca senior: All-VOL first-team selection averaged 5.4 assists in 93 games (500 overall) and had 93 digs and 31 aces.


Stephanie Vande Pol, Ripon Christian, junior: Quietly put together a solid all-around season, posting 116 kills, 50 blocks, 340 assists and 180 digs.

— Jonamar Jacinto

Prior to her freshman year in high school, Andie Shelton had rarely, if ever, spiked volleyballs with any regularity.

Hard to believe being that she jump served as an 8 year old.

A superb setter rated among the country’s best in her age group, the Ripon Christian sophomore is blossoming into one of the best all-around players to come out of the Manteca area.

“I’ve always been a setter. I’ve never really hit the ball — ever,” said Shelton, the Manteca Bulletin’s All-Area Volleyball MVP for the 2011 season.

“For high school my dad just decided to make me a hitter. It’s fun. I love hitting now.”

A wiry athlete at 5 feet, 9 inches, Shelton averaged 2.4 kills, 2.8 digs, 9.1 assists in 82 games while serving up 112 aces. The assist average is ranked third in the section while her ace total is second when compared to stats posted on

She was voted MVP of the Southern League despite her coach — and father, Tiger Shelton — not putting her up for the award. The Knights (27-11) went undefeated in league for a second straight year and went on to claim their fifth straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V championship — the program’s section-leading 15th overall.

Ripon Christian’s season ended Nov. 22 in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal playoffs, falling to fifth-seeded Woodside Priory in four games (25-14, 17-25, 14-25, 23-25). A victory would have sent RC to now two-time defending state champion Branson for a second consecutive year.

“Our goal the last two years was always to win league and sections,” Shelton said. “Winning section is always our big goal and get as far past that as we could. We were hoping to at least get as far as we did last year and get to play Branson-Ross again.”

Shelton, it appears, should have little trouble extending her volleyball career past high school. Tiger said NCAA Division-I programs, including several from the Pac-12, are already vying for her commitment.

Young Andie, of course, has time to make that big decision while adding to her growing resume.

The National Freshman of the Year finalist is a two-time selection for the USA Volleyball High Performance program. Last summer she helped the Stockton-based Delta Valley Volleyball Club place fifth in the USA Volleyball National Championships in Georgia and garnered All-America recognition. In 2010, Shelton led Delta Valley won the national title.

Andie was perhaps destined for greatness coming from a volleyball family.

Her dad playfully foreshadowed this just days after her birth.

Tiger and his wife, Michele, were the co-founders and coaches of the Carolina Juniors club in Charlotte, N.C. back then. He took her to practice, held her up in the middle of the court and declared:

“I want her to be the Tiger Woods of volleyball, but better. He started when he was 4 years old, she will start when she is four days old.”

He was kidding.

“We’ve always wanted her to grow up as normal as possible,” Tiger said.

So they did not allow Andie to play competitively until she was 10.

“I would beg my parents to let me play volleyball but they didn’t want me to start too young,” she said. “So finally I begged them enough for them to put a team together for me. I think they did it because I annoyed them.”

Andie had already been well-developed as volleyball player at that point. Tiger and Michele were standout prep volleyball players in their own right — Tiger at Hoover High in San Diego, and Michele at Strathmore High near Porterville — before competing collegiately and building extensive coaching resumes that go back over 30 years.

“She learned the fundamentals at an earlier age because no matter where she went she was around volleyball coaches,” Tiger said.

“And she had a wicked jump serve when she was 8.”