Ripon Christian’s best wasn’t good enough to overcome top-seeded Sacred Heart Prep in a first round match of the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Regional Championships Tuesday.
The No. 8 Knights traveled to Atherton and were swept 20-25, 22-25, 14-25.
“We did well, we just didn’t have as much firepower as they did,” Ripon Christian coach Tiger Shelton said. “We had our chances, especially in the second game. We had them moving and working hard, so I’m proud of the girls. I think they finished well, it was just unfortunate they got (to face) the No. 1 seed.
Ripon Christian (27-7) had a chance to steal the second set with the score tied 22-22 before the Gators (31-5) took over the match.
Kristy Van Diver clobbered nine kills in her final match for RC. Fellow senior Brittany Petlansky picked up 13 digs, and Cassidy DeRousse posted three blocks. Setter Andie Shelton tallied 15 assists to go with six kills.
Sacred Heart’s size and balance proved to be too much. Payton Smith, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker headed to Brown University, and 6-foot right-side hitter Ellie Smith especially impressed Coach Shelton.
“Their middle is the real deal,” he said. “And they have two nice players on the outside — their No. 10 (Smith) is real strong.”
Sacred Heart Prep will host another Sac-Joaquin Section member in Saturday’s NorCal semifinal. Bear River, the tournament’s No. 4 seed, knocked off Cardinal Newman 20-25, 25-16, 30-28, 25-20. Bear River defeated Ripon Christian in the SJS finals at UC Davis last Thursday.
Tuesday’s loss marks the end of Ripon Christian’s first run at the Division-IV level. The Knights were moved up after capturing their 15th section championship, including five in a row, last year in Division V. Despite facing stronger competition, they proved they belong.
“This year’s group was the most fun to coach,” Shelton said.