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Indians sweep Escalon for title
Ripon High’s Cheyann Deprue slams home one of her kills during the Indians’ 3-0 TVL Championship win over the Cougars at Ripon High. - photo by Ike Dodson
RIPON – The Ripon High volleyball team gave a rowdy senior-night crowd plenty to cheer about during a three-game 25-22, 25-19, 25-19 sweep of the Escalon Cougars, giving the Indians their fifth Trans Valley League title in the past six years.

Escalon showed up to arguably the loudest gym it has visited this season and got an instantaneous introduction of how loud it would be when Cheyann Deprue’s game-opening kill sent the pro Ripon crowd into a frenzy.

“It really made a difference for us out there,” Deprue said of the crowd noise. “Having them support us really helped out a lot. It’s always nice to have people come out and watch us.

“For the TVL title it really meant a lot.”

The Indians clearly fed off the raucous crowd, playing quality volleyball through each game. Escalon showed glimpses of the squad who had beaten Ripon during their last meeting, but were unable to put any significant runs together to pull out a win.

Ripon (14-1 TVL, 35-9 overall) was forced to battle with the visiting Cougars, squandering a 14-4 lead in the first game, coming back from a 12-6 deficit in the second and clawing back from a 8-2 deficit in the finale.

“If the momentum would have switched in that third game,” Ripon head coach Larry Keethe said. “Then it probably would have stayed switched. The third game was an important game to win.

“If we lose that one, it really could have made a difference.”

The victory not only gave Ripon the edge in its three-game set with the Cougars, but it also secures the squad of another TVL title and gives teams in the Sac-Joaquin Section Volleyball Championships a sight of what to expect from the postseason power.

“As a team we were ecstatic,” Deprue said. “That was one of our main goals for the whole season was to win TVL. We all played together and really relied on one another.

“Right now we have a  ot of momentum. We are going to be fighting together until the end.”

Deprue and teammates Ashley Robinson and Lauren Feddersen all put together complete efforts, diving for every ball in play and willing their teammates to victory with an abundance of energy.

Feddersen’s impact was most felt in the pivotal third game, when she smashed home back-to-back kills to pull the Indians back within a point of the Cougars when Escalon was seemingly on their way to victory.

Setter Kelsey Johnston had a remarkable game, dishing out nearly 40 assists and giving outside hitters Robinson and Deprue precise passes with each kill opportunity.

Robinson finished with a game-high 19 kills, eight blocks and three aces, while Deprue made good on 11 kills for the Indians. Lauren Goeppert led the squad with 12 digs, and teammate Paulina Ceja added eight.

Ripon will likely catapult Escalon in the Power Rankings for Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV volleyball, opening the playoff push Tuesday with a home game as the division’s No. 3 seed. The Indians will need a solid opening round performance, followed by a second round win which would push them into the semi-finals.

“This win gives us a bit of confidence heading into the postseason,” Keethe said. “We have had a couple injured, a couple sick and we’ve even got one on crutches, but they just keep playing.

“No matter what, this group always plays hard.”

The Indians completed a perfect jaunt through the TVL with a 25-19, 25-16 win over the visiting Cougars. The team finished the season with a perfect 15-0 league record, solidifying the Ripon High volleyball program for seasons to come.