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Ripon Christian knocks off rust, Manteca
Manteca-Ripon Christian boys volleyball
Ripon Christian’s Josiah Reif (0) follows his kill past Manteca’s Aidan Patton (6) and Julio Mateo (10). GARY JENSEN/

After dropping the first set to visiting Manteca 22-25 Wednesday night, Ripon Christian went on a 9-0 run early in the second set before running away with it 25-10.

The Knights then fought through 17 ties to hold off the Buffaloes in the final two sets 25-21, 25-19 for the non-league boys volleyball win.

“When we started playing like we can and serving the ball like we can, that made it tough on the other team,” Knights coach Kevin Tameling said. “When we have been good this year is when our serving has really put pressure on the other team.

“We have some things to work on. We had a big, exciting weekend with winning the Stockton Classic championship, but we are still early in the season and trying to figure out who we are. We need to work on our blocking, serving and defense.”

After a slow start with just three kills in the first set, Joel Van Groningen led Ripon Christian (10-1) with 21 kills over the next three sets and added three digs on the night.

“This match was not how we normally play,” Van Groningen said. “We had a lot of service errors, and I have only had one practice since I came back from injury, so it’s a little tough to get into a rhythm with the setter.

“At the beginning tonight, I wasn’t really confident, but as the night went on that changed.”

Josiah Reif was right behind Van Groningen with 20 kills and is happy to have his teammate back in the fold.

“Especially since Joel has come back off of injury, I think we have our setter setting it high enough,” Reif said. “And we have the experience from club, and we can jump and hit high hands.”

Van Groningen and Reif kept Justin Hofman busy, as the senior setter dished out a whopping 51 assists with two kills and two aces. 

“It was great to come right out of club into the high-school season,” Hofman said. “We already have the location and the speed down which is nice.”

Camden Steckler led the attack for Manteca (7-4) with nine kills, nine digs, two blocks and an ace. Nick Grabowski added eight kills, Julio Mateo had five kills with Garrison Reis (three kills, ace) and Cedrick Maglinao chipping in six digs apiece. 

Marc Bondoc tallied five digs, 11 assists and an ace for the Buffaloes and Connor Navarro added 13 assists and a block.

Manteca coach Jennifer Reis knows that games like this will prepare her team for the playoffs.

“I know they are the best team in the area,” Reis said. “They were in the Stockton Classic last weekend and they beat Clovis West, which is just huge for a team from the north to do.

“I know we are playing the best of the best, and I love that for our guys because this will help us for playoffs.”

Both teams take to the road Thursday for non-league tilts with the Knights going across the street to face Ripon at 6 p.m. and the Buffaloes travel to Brentwood to face Heritage at 6:30 p.m.