Ripon Christian makes its sixth straight appearance in the California Interscholastic Federation Regional Championships Tuesday night, and it encounters the No. 1 seed for the fourth time in that same stretch.
The big difference between this year’s NorCal run and all others previous is that the Knights (27-7) are now competing in Division IV.
Ripon Christian, which claimed its lone state title in Division V (1999), gets one heck of a welcome to the NorCal D-IV bracket, as the CIF paired it with Atherton power Sacred Heart Prep (30-5). The match is scheduled to start at 7.
The Central Coast Section champion is 2-5 in seven state championship-round appearances and is favored to advance to the finals for an eighth time. Sacred Heart Prep is ranked No. 1 among the state’s Division IV schools by MaxPreps.com, and 14th overall. The Gators are also ranked 46th nationally.
The veteran club is loaded up front with 6-foot-1 senior Payton Smith anchoring the middle. Senior outsides Ellie Shannon and Sonia Abuel-Saud are joined by sophomore Victoria Garrick on Sacred Heart Prep’s hard-hitting front line. Talented senior Cammie Merten and sophomore Natalie Marshall share setting duties, and Helen Gannon leads the defensive back row.
Ripon Christian is coming off last Thursday’s competitive four-game loss to fourth-seeded Bear River in the SJS finals. The Knights had won five Division V section titles in a row.
The RC-SHP winner faces Bear River or No. 5 Cardinal Newman on Saturday. The regional finals will take place next Tuesday, Nov. 27, and the state championships are set for Dec. 1 at Concordia University in Irvine.