An undefeated league record and a playoff win would be seen as successful for most teams. Ripon Christian did that in the 2013-2014 season, and for the Knights it was an off year.
Prior to being bumped up to Division IV following the 2011-2012 season, Ripon Christian reeled off five consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division V championships. And the first year of Division IV competition nearly yielded a sixth banner with Ripon Christian knocking off No. 1 seed Escalon in the semifinals before getting tripped up 3-1 in the finals by Bear River.
While all that history is great, history does not put banners on the wall. Gone will be four-year varsity standout Andie Shelton who has moved on to the University of the Pacific and with a core group of returning seniors ready to pick up the slack, Dani Erdelatz appears to be a driving force for another blue-and-white banner for the rafters.
“Dani is shaping up to be a standout,” second-year Knights coach Kara Ledeboer said. “Her all-around play has really improved and she’s become a great leader.”
Erdelatz will help anchor a strong nucleus of returners from a team that went 14-0 in the Southern League and 17-9 overall. Other notable seniors are Elisabeth and Elise Regusci and Makenna Koslosky. Juniors Julia Ray and Bailey Silveira are expected to be immediate contributors.
The second-round season-ending loss to Hilmar in the playoffs last season was a nail-biter. The two teams were 1-1 going into the third game when the Yellowjackets eked out a 26-24 win before winning the fourth game 25-15. Hilmar finished undefeated at home and second in the section.
Ledeboer is optimistically looking forward to the upcoming season.
“The outlook for this year’s RC Volleyball team is a promising one,” Ledeboer said. “The team is looking to continue its success with four seniors, five juniors and one sophomore to form a solid foundation this year.
“I am excited about the level of play I am seeing already in the first few practices. The seniors are really stepping up to provide leadership on the court.”
On Tuesday, Sept 2, Ripon Christian hosts Ripon in a SJS Foundation Game at 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, Sept. 3, the Knights travel to Manteca for a 6:30 p.m. contest.