Paige Vos delivered the splashy spikes and ignited many of the scoring runs for Ripon Christian last year.
The 2017 All-Southern Athletic League Co-MVP graduated, leaving the Knights without a reliable go-to hitter … or so they thought.
Enter Makenzie Miller, a returning senior who moved from the middle to the outside. Head coach Jocelyn Benziger and Miller led Ripon Christian back to the top of the SAL and were among the area’s top postseason award winners.
While Miller was crowned outright MVP in the Southern League, Manteca’s Kacy Bolding is the Most Outstanding Player of the Valley Oak League for a second straight year, and Jahsita Fa’alii was voted Offensive Player of the Year in Lathrop’s inaugural season in the Western Athletic Conference.
Miller wasn’t always the kill leader for Ripon Christian (13-1, 19-11), which was able to spread the wealth against most league opponents.
But when the Knights needed a spark, they went to the 5-foot-10 captain. She helped them avenge an earlier defeat against Le Grand, which owns the other half of the title, sweeping, 28-26, 25-17, 25-19. Le Grand was ahead 13-6 in the opening set and had a chance to put it away, but Miller came through with five of her match-high 20 kills during the come-from-behind flurry.
“Makenzie was an amazing kid with strong work ethic and a consistent fight for the game and her teammates,” said Benziger, an All-SAL Co-Coach of the Year. “She had a presence in the court for our team that assured confidence and determination. She was a great captain and leader and accepted her role with understanding the its impact.
“She played all the way around most of the season and made minimal hitting errors. Her serves were a challenge for anyone she competed against and played a great season. Well deserving of MVP.”
Senior outside hitter Renae Heida, senior setter Taylor Alger, junior defensive specialist Lauren Braga and freshman middle blocker Emily Van Groningen are the Knights’ all-league selections. Megan Bos and Taylor Anema earned honorable mention.
Valley Oak League
Bolding is one of three four-year varsity starters who led Manteca’s best run in the VOL in more than two decades.
After claiming their first VOL title since 1991 last year, the Buffaloes (10-2, 21-7 overall) finished as the runner-up to resurgent Central Catholic (12-0, 33-10) — spearheaded by freshman outside hitter Abby Castillon, the new All-VOL MVP.
Bolding capped her final VOL season with 154 assists, 90 kills, 97 digs and 14 aces. Fellow fourth-year setter Kaitlyn Morenzone (210 assists, 100 kills, 112 digs, 17 aces), the league MVP last year, earned all-league first honors along with East Union sophomore outside hitter Savannah LeBarre and Weston Ranch senior middle Senecia Patten.
Manteca outside hitter Payton Reis, junior middle Kaylee MacDannald and freshman defensive specialist Abbey Kadillak were named to the All-VOL second team. They are joined by East Union senior Jaidyn Valencia and Sierra sophomore setter Ashlee-Lynn Matteroli.
East Union seniors Alexus Surnip and Kiana Day both made honorable mention.
Ripon (10-2, 25-12) mounted the deepest postseason run among area clubs, dropping a five-set heartbreaker to Washington Union in the CIF Northern California Division V Regional Championships final.
Three Indians seniors were named to the All-TVL team: outside hitter Mia Van Lewen, setter Rachel Sausedo and libero Deven Stokes. They are joined by sophomore middle blocker Sydney Thomason, who enjoyed a breakout campaign.
Van Lewen was Ripon’s all-around producer, racking up 368 kills and 366 digs overall. Sausedo dished out 63 assists in the NorCal championship and ended with 647 along with 250 digs. Stokes paced Ripon with 417 digs. Thomason contributed 213 kills and 62 blocks.
Hilmar (12-0, 35-13), the CIF state runner-up in Division IV, garnered all of the top honors — Most Outstanding Player Mikela Labno, MVP Liv Peterson and Coach of the Year Patti Harris.
Western Athletic Conference
Lathrop (12-2, 14-8) narrowly missed a share of its first-ever varsity volleyball championship. Beyer outside hitter Olivia Keller is MVP, and Tony Silva was named Coach of the Year.
The 5-9 Fa’alii was a big reason for Lathrop’s best campaign in school history. In league, she thumped a whopping 286 kills (6.2 per set) and did her best work in the Spartans’ biggest matches. Fa’alii also served 48 assists and registered 131 digs.
Third-year setter Karina Chavez racked up 436 assists and 123 digs to make the All-WAC first team. Senior middle blocker Avleen Kaur and senior libero Krystal Tempra were selected to the second team.