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Ripon swept by Lodi in final nonleague match
Ripon High blockers Paige Horwood, left, and Alyssa Leslie try to get their hands on the ball after Lodis Jessica Malcom spikes it over. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO

RIPON — Ripon High’s three-game loss (18-25, 17-25, 15-25) to Lodi Tuesday is one of those bumps on the road that first-year coach Adrienne Uecker is hoping will help make her volleyball club better.

The Indians, who begin Trans Valley League play next week, had their moments but had no answer for Lodi standout Jessica Malcolm, who took over during key stretches in each set.

The tone was set early for Ripon, which wrapped up its nonleague schedule with an even 5-5 mark. It didn’t trail until a hitting error gave Lodi a 14-13 lead. Malcolm followed that up with a thudding spike to get the Flames (4-2) going. That was a part of a 12-1 Lodi run, and Malcolm sealed the game with another kill.

“We just stopped doing what was working for us,” Uecker said. “I teach them that volleyball is a game of adjustments, not a game of perfection.

“You might miss a couple blocks, you might miss a couple of hits, you might make a couple of errors but you can’t let that bring your momentum down.

“Sometimes you just have to put the ball back to the other side, not necessarily with a hit or a block. Let the other club make the error, or reset and make a smart play.”

It’s a part of the learning process for a team that graduated most of its major players from last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division-IV championship squad.

Midway through the second game, a string of serve-receive and hitting errors began to unfold, and the Indians had a tough time recovering. And things unraveled more quickly in the third set, when Lodi took its largest lead of the match at 21-10 on middle blocker Kaitlin Drake’s kill.

Ripon’s Sierra Daggett answered with a scoring tip, but momentum had already belonged to the Flames. And it was, of course, Malcolm iced it in the end with two kills.

Paige Horwood led Ripon with six kills, Paige Burrell finished with 33 digs, Madison Allen handed out 11 assists and Alyssa Allen added three blocks.

Lodi, a consistent postseason qualifier in the Division-I ranks, is just one of several teams to have tested Ripon. The Indians have also faced the likes Oakdale and Sonora, the annual frontrunners of the Division-III Valley Oak League, as well as crosstown rival Ripon Christian — the reigning Division-V champion in the SJS.

“I think we’re going to be really good because we are improving a lot, which is important this early in the season,” Uecker said. “We just have to work on being more consistent and communicating a little better. If we can do that, we’ll be all right.”

Ripon heads to Hilmar next Monday to begin the TVL season, and contending Escalon follows.