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Knights continue surprise playoff run
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AUBURN — Ripon Christian is back in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title match for the third straight year with a chance to win a third straight title.

While the Knights’ sweep (25-17, 25-19, 25-16) of No. 6 Forest Lake Christian Tuesday is surprising to many, even their own coach, it’s what the Knights have expected of themselves.

The bracket’s 10th-seeded team will meet No. 1 Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento at 4 p.m. Thursday in the finals. Bradshaw defeated No. 5 Woodland Christian in four games in the other semifinal match.

“I told them that this was a rebuilding year at the start of the season, and it made them mad,” Ripon Christian coach Tiger Shelton said. “We’ve (won) 3-0 in our three (playoff) matches. The girls are playing with a lot of intensity and swagger right now.

“At this point I don’t what they can do because we have such a young team. We haven’t peaked by any means.”

Ripon Christian has picked up where graduated standouts Andrea Terpstra and Candice Adema left off in the postseason a year ago, looking to senior middle blocker Kelsey Tillema and junior setter Michelle Terpstra for leadership.

Michelle Terpstra spread the offense with her 24 assists, and Tillema led the way with eight kills. Mikaela Alger and freshman Brittany Petlansky added five kills apiece, and Emily Lahey pounded out four to go with six blocks.

“They have one great player in Morghan Pomeroy, and she’s dynamic,” Shelton said. “We had to keep her guessing, and Michelle did a great job of getting it to different people. It all starts with our back row, and they passed very well tonight.”

Doubling the excitement for Shelton and the Knights is that friendly crosstown rival Ripon is also in the section finals, marking the third straight year that both schools will be represented at UC Davis. Ripon will face four-time defending Division IV champion Christian Brothers at 6 Thursday night.

“I exchanged text messages with people from Ripon after the match, and it’s just a great feeling,” Shelton said. “It’s great for the community to have that happen for a third straight year. We’ll be cheering for each other again, that’s for sure.”
— Jonamar Jacinto