By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ripon fends off dangerous Falcons to reach semifinals
Bridgette Gall (2) and Coryn Hernandez set up the block for Ripon as Erica Heikila of visiting Colfax spikes it over in Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV quarterfinal match. - photo by JONAMAR JACINTO
RIPON — This time, Ripon High’s Indians had to break a sweat.

The Sac-Joaquin Section’s top-seeded team in the Division-IV playoffs swept No. 9 Colfax (25-18, 25-19, 25-21) in quarterfinal action Thursday.

 Ripon (31-6) worked for this one after handling Venture Academy — 25-5, 25-5, 25-10 — in the opener.
Ripon head coach Larry Keethe said Colfax (22-13) is deceptively good, and he was sure to get that point across to his players going in.

“Colfax is one of the better teams in our section,” Keethe said. “If they seeded by ability or strength, they’d be 2 or 3. They’re a good team — certainly a lot better than they were last year. We played them last year and it wasn’t pretty.”

Ripon kept Erica Heikila, one of Colfax’s top hitters, from taking over but had no answer for 5-foot-11 middle blocker Iona Lofrano, who crushed a match-high 15 kills. The Falcons also had some impressive moments in the back row led by Kassidy Gutierrez, Ashley Scott and Heikila.

The difference, though, was Ripon’s superior depth from front to back.

Cheyann DePrue pounded out 12 kills while leading Ripon in digs with 15. Paige Horwood added 11 kills, Coryn Hernandez had 10 to go with two blocks and sophomore Alyssa Leslie swatted six kills. Libero Paulina Ceja collected 11 digs.

Leslie emphatically ended the match with a big spike after the Falcons did well to climb back from a 12-20 deficit in Game 3.

“We’ve been working a lot on our hitting,” said senior setter Kelsey Johnston, who finished with 36 assists. “We pulled up a couple girls (from the sophomore team) and that helped competition-wise to make everyone work harder.”

Colfax’s best effort came in the second game. Lofrano banged down two straight kills, and a net violation on Ripon’s side helped the Falcons establish a 12-7 lead — their largest of the match.

Ripon then went on a 7-2 run punctuated by a kill from DePrue, and Paige Burrell recorded an ace for the lead. Game 2 was clinched by a tip from Johnson.

“We didn’t know what to expect. (The coaches) kind of warned us, but we really didn’t know what to expect,” Johnston said. “So we went out hard, stayed loud and kept it positive all match.”

The Indians will next host 13th-seeded Bear River, which upset No. 4 West Campus in four games Tuesday and No. 5 Capital Christian in five Thursday.

On the other side of the bracket, No. 2 Golden Sierra swept No. 7 Summerville, while No. 3 Escalon edged No. 6 Mariposa in five.

Ripon is one win away from taking a trip to UC Davis, the site of the section finals, for the fifth straight year.