RIPON — Ashlyn Eisenga can serve it where she wants.
With visiting Bear River of Grass Valley hanging around in the second set Tuesday, Eisenga took the service line with Ripon clinging to a four-point lead. Eisenga got the last four points of the match – the last three on aces – and the Indians never trailed again on the way to a 25-16, 25-17, 25-12 semifinal win in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV volleyball playoffs.
“I was really confident going back to serve,” Eisenga said of her second-set run. “I knew I had to keep the ball in, and I was confident.”
Eisenga got the next-to-last point of the second set on an ace that hit the net before falling in the front court, and she followed that with one that landed just inside the back line to end the match.
“I would serve short, then they would move up, and then I would serve deep,” said Eisenga, who had eight aces. “It was a tactic.”
The top-seeded Indians have not been to the finals since 2010 but they will do so on Saturday, taking on No. 2 Hilmar at Tokay High in Lodi at 2:30 p.m. Ripon failed to get past the semifinals the past two years.
“We haven’t made it into the (final) round the last two years so this was a big game for us,” Ripon setter Lauren Weibe said. “We had to focus on what we had to do.
“We have been working for this game the whole season. We brought it to the court and we did what we needed to do.”
Although Ripon (22-4) never trailed in the third set, it took the Indians a while to pull away. The game was tied at every point up to 7-7 when Sam McCreath started a 7-1 run with one of her game-high 19 kills.
“We had some miscommunication in that third set,” Indians coach Erin Cutino said. “But at the end of the day they play well under pressure.
“They rallied back and came through.”
Ripon closed out the third set on a 9-3 run in which McCreath got three more kills, one of them from the back row.
“Sam was ready to go this game,” Cutino said. “You could see it.
“All the girls were coiled and ready to go but she brought the power tonight. She absolutely did. They single blocked her most of the night so she unleashed.”
McCreath was simply dominating – she got the first three Indians points of the night on kills and the next two on blocks. She also had two digs.
“We knew coming in that they were going to be our toughest competition,” McCreath said. “So we knew we couldn’t take them lightly.
“We fought for every point.”
Madison mcCreath had eight kills for Ripon while Breana Barrios had four kills and a block, and Weibe had 29 assists.
The fifth-seeded Bruins (22-20) last had a lead in the first set at 2-1 and in the second set it was at, 3-2.