RIPON — The crowd was loud – very loud – but that did not matter to Ripon Christian’s Bethany Silveira.
After getting handled in the first set of the second-round Sac-Joaquin Section Division V playoff contest with the host Knights, Millennium of Tracy battled back in the second to force seven ties and led 19-17 when Ripon Christian’s Carly Eastham hammered a kill, giving the serve to Silveira.
The junior libero did not disappoint, reeling off three aces behind seven service points to end the match as the Knights went on to a 25-16, 25-19, 25-7 sweep.
“I really had to focus on what I was doing,” said Silveira who also had nine digs. “Because I knew the atmosphere could get to me.”
Eastham (eight kills, four aces, one block) picked up where Silveira left off. She fired off two aces to start the third set and ended up going on a 10-0 run with Ripon (21-10) leading the rest of the way.
With her eight kills, Eastham was a force at the net as well.
“Moving from back to front can be kind of hard,” Eastham said. “You have switch your mind set from playing the front row to playing the back row.
“We started out really strong but we kind of had a little lull in that second game but we really came together in that third game.”
The energy in the gym was palpable. Ripon Christian adopted a block-party theme for the night with the crowd dressed in aprons with barbecue implements. The Knights may not have had a lot of blocks – Lyndsey Van Groningen led the team with three – but Paige Vos dominated at the net with 13 kills, a block and two aces.
“It was crazy,” Vos said. “Our fans were the ones who made the game. They came here and they were ready.
“Our team has been preparing all week and we were ready to play. It was awesome to have to have all the people out here tonight.”
Elizabeth Weststeyn (four digs, two aces and a kill) kept busy setting up Eastham and Vos with 20 assists.
“Coach told me to move the ball around,” Weststeyn said. “So I was looking to our biggest hitters, our strongest ones because they will put it down for us.
“The crowd was awesome. It was so much bigger than usual and it kept us going – it kept our level high.”
The match went the way Ripon Christian coach Jocelyn Benziger had talked to her team about how she wanted it to go.
“We have talked about it before how if we could take Games 1 and 2 we would be in a position to be able to play more composed,” Benziger said. “You won’t be stressed or worried about what happens if we lose or win.
“Coming out of one of those timeouts we finished the second set really well with some solid serves and put us in a position to create our own pace in the third. I didn’t have to do much but sit back and watch it.”
Millennium falls to 10-13, and Ripon Christian advances to the semifinals on the road Tuesday against Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento at 7 p.m.