AT A GLANCE
WHO: Ripon Christian vs. Redwood
WHAT: CIF State Division III final
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 18
WHERE: Santiago Canyon College, Orange
ADMISSION: $12 general, children 5-over/students/seniors $8 (tickets available through GoFan)
Ripon Christian is returning to Santiago Canyon College on Saturday and will face another school from Visalia in the 45th California Interscholastic Federation Girls Volleyball State Championships.
After sweeping Central Valley Christian for the Division IV crown in Orange last season, the Knights (36-5) are pitted against Redwood (36-6) in the Division III final. The match is scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m.
While RC had some familiarity with its previous final-round opponent, it’s getting to know the Rangers. The Knights have opened the past two years with matches against Central Valley Christian and are 3-0 against the Cavaliers. Redwood played CVC two months ago, getting swept in a tournament.
“We’ll watch video, we’ll scout and do all those things, but at the end of the day, we just have to play good Ripon Christian volleyball,” RC coach Kayla Kootstra said Tuesday following her team’s three-set win at reigning D-III state champ Archie Williams in the Northern Regional final.
“Whatever we face on the other side of the court, we can make the adjustments. But when we’re playing well, we’re a tough team to beat.”
Anchored by seven seniors, the Knights have certainly been at the top of their game. They’ve lost only one out of 25 sets in eight postseason matches and made it out of the NorCal bracket as the No. 13 seed.
“We’re definitely used to getting ranked low,” senior middle Sydney Hoffman said, referencing the Knights’ No. 9 NorCal seed last season. “We kind of just said we have to start off strong and show them who we are, because we know we’re better than that.”
Redwood, of course, is also riding a wave of momentum following its first-round exit in the Central Section Division I playoffs. Seeded second in Southern California, the Rangers vanquished No. 15 Culver City (19-14) in four games, No. 7 Venice (37-11) in three, No. 3 Temple City (20-5) in five and No. 4 Del Norte (24-15) in the regional final, 19-25, 25-20, 25-23, 25-18.
The East Yosemite League champion is guided by Alana Montgomery, a veteran coach with more than 700 wins in her 40-year career.
Like Ripon Christian, Redwood is senior laden with 5-foot-10 setter/opposite Audrey Hyde. The all-around threat recorded a triple-double in the SoCal final with 18 kills, 20 assists and 24 digs to go with four blocks.
Fellow captains Ashlyn Guenter and Kennedy Cutler also key the attack from the posts. Devyn Castaneda leads the back-row defense, while sophomore Andee May and Taylor McElree patrol the middle.
The Rangers are making their first-ever appearance in the state final, while Ripon Christian seeks its third championship. Kootstra was a player on RC’s 1999 team that claimed the Division V crown.
The Knights have enjoyed replicating the 2022 run as road warriors.
“Fun memories with my team,” Ripon Christian setter Megan Weststeyn said. “Making it this far just means more bus rides and more memories we get to make. It has been fun.”