HILMAR — A small-school powerhouse in athletics, Ripon Christian can now add boys volleyball to the list.
The Knights captured the outright Trans-Valley League crown on Tuesday, sweeping second-place Hilmar 25-21, 25-23, 25-17 after the two clubs previously battled to a fifth set.
While the sport remains new for most schools in the southern half of the Sac-Joaquin Section, Ripon Christian is picking up where it left off two decades ago. The school competed in boys volleyball in the late 1990s and early 2000s, claiming titles in 1997 and 98.
“The players on this new team have continued to make noticeable improvements as the season has progressed during competitive practices as much as matches,” RC coach Kevin Tameling said.
Ripon Christian (7-0, 13-3 overall) has won 10 straight matches and closes the regular season at home Thursday against Riverbank. Hilmar (5-2, 14-19) will join the Knights in the SJS playoffs.
The Yellowjackets were able to jump out to 4-0 and 6-0 leads in the first two games but were unable to sustain them.
“Hilmar runs a more advanced attack than most teams in this area, and the key tonight was our blocking and defense,” Tameling said.
Six-foot-6 outside hitter Cade Alger led the way with 17 kills, 11 digs and three blocks. Braden Van Groningen added eight kills, three blocks, 12 digs and two aces. Mark Ozenbaugh (five blocks, nine digs) and Tristan DeShields (11 digs) helped anchor the defense, while Andrew Vander Weide pounded out 11 kills and setter Dillon Zuidervaart distributed 33 assists to go with 12 digs.
Mountain House 0
MOUNTAIN HOUSE — Ripon’s all-senior squad went out with a victory, avenging a previous loss to Mountain House (2-4, 5-14-1) with a 25-23, 25-15, 25-25 sweep.
Michael Winters paced the attack with 10 kills for the Indians (3-5, 5-14). Mitchell Ulrich and Brandon States had five and four blocks, respectively. Trent Hawes contributed 15 digs, while Dylan Sexton handed out 10 assists.
“We got better and better as the season progressed and had a lot of fun today,” Ripon coach Rod Wright said. “Our seniors went out on a high note.”