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Ripon loses bid to claim outright TVL crown
Ripon loses bid to claim outright TVL crown
Livingston-Ripon boys volleyball
Livingston outside hitter Gurvir Singh spikes into Ripon’s block from Trent Olmo (22) Drake Krippene. - photo by SEAN KAHLER

 All the energy at North Gym emanated from the visitors end of the court Tuesday at Ripon High.

Livingston was on its game with the Trans-Valley League championship on the line, needing just three sets to avenge a previous loss to the Indians, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20.

Both teams close the regular season on Thursday — Ripon (6-1 TVL, 20-9, overall) travels to first-year Escalon, while the Wolves (6-1, 28-7) welcome Hilmar — and will share the title if they get the expected results. Ripon is in reach of its first-ever boys volleyball crown, while Livingston eyes its third in a row.

“I’m super proud of them even tying for the league championship — it’s a huge jump from where they’ve come,” Ripon coach Tara Maruyama. “In the four years I’ve here, they’ve really (achieved) a lot. We have a young team, but I still think they’re not playing to the top of their abilities. I see what they can do every day in practice and even in some of our big games, but today was just not that day.”

The two teams split their last two meetings, which took place in a span of five days in late March. Livingston swept a best-of-three in the Stockton Classic, but Ripon evened the score by winning a five-game thriller in their first TVL showdown of the season.

“Losing in five at our place was tough,” Livingston coach Michael Alvernaz said. “I think they wanted it more in that match. We talked about it and marked this one on the calendar.”

His Wolves established dominance at the outset, building a 7-1 lead behind strong front-row play from Gurvir Singh (12 kills, two blocks) and Bradley Kaji (10 kills, three blocks).

“Livingston came to play,” Maruyama said, “and we weren’t able to match that.”

Ripon was far more competitive in the second set but could never separate itself by more than two points. A kill from Alex Alvarallos followed by a four-touch violation from Livingston had the Indians ahead, 18-16. Ripon unraveled from there, getting penalized twice for net violations.

The Indians last led at 8-7 in game 3. Livingston rolled to an 18-12 lead after Udayveer Dhadda’s scoring dink and coasted the sweep despite three serving errors. To their credit, the Wolves did not have any serving errors until the third set, while Ripon had seven total.

“The serving errors are huge,” Maruyama said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to get those points, but we’re definitely just giving them away.”

Alvarellos led Ripon with nine kills and an ace. Trent Olmo contributed six kills and three blocks, and setter Anthony Gomez netted 26 assists, four digs and two blocks. Maruyama lauded the play of defensive specialist Leonardo Barrera, who chipped in seven digs and kept multiple rallies going with his hustle.

“I don’t want this one game to define who they are, but we can’t just walk onto the court and hope to win, we gotta be driven for every single ball,” Maruyama said. “I know they have so much more, because I’ve seen it.”

This is the last match between Ripon and Livingston as league rivals, with the latter moving to the Western Athletic Conference next year.

“They have a really good squad,” Alvernaz said of Ripon. “We’re really young, I start six sophomores, but they’re really young, too. We were building this rivalry, unfortunately, we won’t be in the same league next year. I have nothing but respect for Ripon.”

Junior varsity

Ripon 2, Livingston 1

The Indians came back to win, 23-25, 25-12, 15-10.

Setter Josiah Aflleje led them with 16 assists and 10 digs. Andres Garcia added 16 digs and five aces. Brody Trask also served five aces.