RIPON — Ripon had its moments Tuesday night but couldn’t keep up with the overall size, skill and experience of Hilmar, which rolled to a 25-17, 25-15, 25-18 win that clinched at least a share of the Trans-Valley League championship for the Yellowjackets.
One key point in the opening set summarized the match.
With Hilmar (9-0 TVL, 21-11 overall) leading 18-14, the Indians (6-3, 8-12) showed their grit during the best rally of the night extended by a pancake dig from Taylor Werner. Hilmar middle Erin Benning found a gap in the Ripon defense and sent a scoring dink to the shallow right corner.
It was part of a devastating nine-point run — also highlighted by back-to-back blocks from Benning (seven kills, five blocks) — for Hilmar.
“Hilmar is a great team and their hitters are smart,” Ripon coach Erin Cutino said. “They place the ball well and find a way to keep the ball up. You could see our girls lose their energy in those long rallies.”
Fourth-year seniors Mariah Ahid (12 kills) and Hannah Pearce (35 assists, 12 digs) led the Yellowjackets, who have five players at 5-foot-11 and taller along the front line. Freshman Mikela Labno contributed with 11 kills, the last of which ended the match.
Ripon’s chances took a hit early on when libero Deven Stokes was sidelined with an injury.
“That never makes for an easy change in the middle of a match, especially when you have to play your best game verses a great team like that,” Cutino said. “Our girls battled, but they just have a lot of tools that they use well.”
Mia Van Lewen registered five kills, 13 digs and four aces for the Indians. Senior outside hitters Makayla Buie and Taylor Werner each had six kills and 16 digs. Rachel Sausedo turned in 17 assists, while Alyssa Barrios and Jessica Stanley recorded three and two blocks, respectively.
Ripon is looking to close out the regular season strong in its final three matches starting with Riverbank on the road Thursday.