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Ripon Christian rolls to Division-V semifinal
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Alivia Mendoza of Turlock Christian spikes the ball into the block of Ripon Christians Andie Shelton in Game 1 of Thursdays Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V quarterfinal match. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

RIPON — There were no secrets or surprises when Southern League volleyball rivals Ripon Christian and Turlock Christian squared off for a third time this season Thursday.

Only this time it was in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V playoffs.

It ended in a three-game sweep (25-18, 25-17, 25-16) in favor of RC like the rest of them. Expected yes, but the top-seeded Knights (25-13) didn’t come out playing like fully confident team.

The No. 9 Eagles (17-14) traveled to Auburn Tuesday and swept while Ripon Christian was idle to start the 12-team postseason tournament. Advantage Turlock Christian, said RC coach Tiger Shelton.

“We came out nervous,” Shelton said. “Having the one-game bye and being the No. 1 seed puts a lot of pressure on a team. I know we come out a little tight most of the time anyway, so having the extra day off doesn’t really help us.”

Turlock Christian led 3-1 in the opening set before the Knights answered with six unanswered points, a run highlighted by two straight aces from Stephanie Van de Pol and back-to-back kills from Morgan Alger and Andie Shelton.

With front-row standouts Rebekah Muller and Sarah Amaral leading the way, the Eagles were able to match the home team point for point before a series of self-inflicted errors did them in late.

That early lead would end up being the last for Turlock Christian for the remainder of the match, but it came out swinging once again in Game 2. Ripon Christian didn’t pull away until a five-point flurry resulted in a 14-9 advantage.

“They’re not going to come here to just give us this game,” Shelton said. “They had nothing to lose. They know we’re supposed to win and they know that we’re the big dogs. But they have a good program, they have good coaches and they play really hard.”

Game 3 was as routine as most other Southern League contests for RC. Andie Shelton pounded an emphatic kill for a 9-3 lead. The Knights’ widest margin of the match came at 23-14 following Mikaela Alger’s scoring tip off an overpass.

The Alger twins dominated for some stretches at the net, with Mikaela tallying five blocks and Morgan drilling 11 kills — both team highs.

Shelton quarterbacked the offense from the setter position and effectively kept Turlock Christian’s blockers guessing with quick and shoot sets. She finished with 29 assists to go with eight kills.

Kaylie Colyn and Brittany Petlansky turned in 16 and 13 digs, respectively, and Teagan Manus contributed four blocks.

Ripon Christian will next host No. 5 Capital Christian of Sacramento next Tuesday. The other semifinal pits fellow Southern League member Le Grand, the 11th seed, and No. 7 Bradshaw Christian. The winners will meet at UC Davis on Nov. 17.

Ripon Christian has claimed the section’s last four Division-V championships.