RIPON — Even when it is not at full strength, the Ripon volleyball team is pretty tough to beat.
The No. 5 Indians battled through illness Wednesday night and led most of the first two sets before going on a 10-0 run in the third for some breathing room on the way to a 25-11, 25-20, 25-18 win over visiting No. 12 Sutter in first-round action of the CIF State Northern California Division IV Championships.
“When we are not playing well it is due to our communication,” Ripon coach Erin Cutino said. “They were quiet today and battling some sickness and some other stuff.
“Sam (McCreath) was really sick and a few other girls were pretty sick and they battled through every single time. But they came out a little flat and a little quiet.”
The Indians (24-4) did not trail the entire first set and were behind by a point just once in the second. The Huskies (18-15) got out to a 7-4 lead in the third game when Cutino called a timeout. Ripon came out of the timeout energized and went on a 10-0 run behind the serving of Rachel Sausedo (ace) and never trailed again.
“I had to remind them to get their communication up and start moving,” Cutino said. “They responded.”
During that 10-0 run McCreath tallied three of her game-high 20 kills and one of her two blocks. She had a double-double with 16 digs.
“Today we were about getting through this match and getting to the next one,” McCreath said. “And I’ve been really sick the last few days so I wasn’t completely with it but the rest of the team was really good and we had really good team defense.”
Sutter’s most memorable point was also its most painful. Trailing 16-10 in the second set, the Indians’ Breanna Barrios went up for a powerful spike and executed it perfectly right off the face of a Huskies player in the back row. The ball caromed back across the net and fell to the floor.
The lucky bounce robbed Barrios of a kill but she still finished with 15 along with four blocks.
“I feel like we didn’t have a lot of energy,” Barrios said. “But we were confident tonight and we played very confident.”
Lauren Wiebe was a busy girl with 43 assists.
“We didn’t have as much energy as we usually do,” Wiebe said. “But it was OK – we worked with it and everyone did well, the back row and the front row.”
Libero Ashlyn Eisenga owned the back row with 29 digs and five aces.
“We knew that since this was the NorCal tournament we had to keep our competitiveness going,” Eisenga said. “We knew we had stiff competition coming in here tonight and we were prepared very well for that
“We came out with the win and now we are ready to move on to our next round on Saturday.”
Madison McCreath added seven kills and a block and Makayla Buie tallied four kills and four blocks.
Ripon travels to Ross on Saturday to face fourth-seeded Branson at 7 p.m. in second-round action.