SACRAMENTO — With second-seeded John Adams Academy nipping at No. 1 seed Ripon Christian’s heels in the third set Saturday, the Knights’ Griffin De Abreu dashed any hopes of the Patriots forcing a fourth game.
Behind a pair of aces, De Abreu ended the final set on a six-point service run with his final serve bouncing of off a John Adams Academy player and to the back wall to give Ripon Christian the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys volleyball championship with a 25-13, 25-20, 25-18 sweep at Natomas High School.
“Griffin has mainly been a front-row player for us all season,” Knights coach Kevin Tameling said. “When he rotates to the back row he will serve before coming out for our libero.
“But he is a great server. He is a junior, an all-league player, a great athlete and he made some key plays at the net. He swings hard when it’s there, but otherwise he is very crafty around the net.”
De Abreu finished with six kills, five kills, two blocks and four aces. If he is the crafty one, then Joel Van Groningen is the hammer. Van Groningen finished with 18 kills — four from the backcourt — and four aces behind a screaming jump serve.
“I think we have an advantage when we are able to get an out-of-system ball into the back row and not throw them all the way across to the front,” Van Groningen said. “And then we can set the back row. The other teams aren’t used to it.
“We played pretty well today. We were a little jittery at the beginning, though.”
Ripon Christian (26-1) has plenty of weapons. With lone senior Silas Vander Woude out with an ankle injury, Josiah Reif is one of the players who has stepped up. Despite a late night on Friday, Reif hammered out eight kills.
“We came out pretty tired,” Reif said. “We had the junior-senior prom last night.
“But we did come out strong, we tried our hardest and were victorious.”
Preston Zuidervaart dished out 20 assists and Justin Hofman (three kills) added 18 assists.
“My passers were doing a great job of getting me the ball,” Zuidervaart said. “And then we put it down pretty easily.
“They really didn’t have a big block out there so almost every ball was getting down. This was really exciting and hopefully we will be back next year.”
The Knights closed out the first set on a 12-3 run and the final set on an 8-1 run and the Patriots (27-4) could only manage four kills and one block total in the first two sets. The biggest lead John Adams Academy of Roseville could manage was two points.
“Those first two sets were being dictated by us,” Tameling said. “By our kills and our errors. And they’re a good team, so we had to clean some things up. They were 27-3 coming in for a reason and they compete well, they compete hard.
“We just kept shooting ourselves in the foot early, but the guys came around and did a great job toward the end.”
Ripon Christian is also the top seed for the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal Division IV Regional Championships. The Knights have a bye Tuesday and will face No. 4 Lincoln of San Francisco (26-12) or No. 5 Oakland Tech (13-3) in the semifinal round Thursday. Match time is set for 6.