The Alger twins are proof that years and money spent on year-round club volleyball experience isn’t necessary to succeed in the sport.
They are probably more the exception than the rule, however.
Mikaela and Morgan Alger led Ripon Christian to its fifth straight Sac-Joaquin Section Division-V championship last Thursday at UC Davis. The Knights (27-10) beat Bradshaw Christian in four games in what was the third final-round matchup in as many years between the two schools, and the 6-foot outside hitters were a part of them all.
Ripon Christian’s season resumes today in the opening round of the California Interscholastic Federation State Championships. The NorCal regional opener begins at 7 p.m. with a home match against Woodside Priory of Portola Valley.
The Algers have evolved from reserves to starting role players to go-to standouts. In the section finale Mikaela pounded 13 kills and nine blocks while Morgan hammered eight kills.
“Every year is different and we’ve enjoyed each year,” Morgan said. “It hasn’t been a cakewalk so we’ve had to work hard.”
The Algers have had to work extra hard to keep up in a sport that requires club experience to excel at any level. Not only have they proven that they belong on a tradition-rich program such as RC’s, nut they are also the squad’s unquestioned leaders.
“They are natural-born leaders in anything that they do, not just in volleyball,” said head coach Tiger Shelton. “It’s in their makeup, it’s just who they are.”
Andie Shelton, Tiger’s daughter, is a year-round player. She has played on U.S. national teams in recent years and is RC’s most talented all-around player as a sophomore. Tiger said Andie “lives and breathes volleyball,” but they don’t think any less of the Algers because they don’t.
“They might not be playing club volleyball, but they take this team and push us to the top,” Andie Shelton said of the twins. “Their role on this team is huge.”
Tiger remembers the day the he found out that the Alger twins were, well, twins. Back when Mikaela and Morgan Alger were fifth graders at Ripon Christian School he spotted one of them during bus evacuation drills.
“One of them walked through and I said, ‘Hey, good to see you. You’re still going to play volleyball for me, right?’” Shelton said. “Then about two seconds later the other one walked by and I said, ‘Why are you doing this twice for?’ When she said she has twin I was like, ‘Are you serious?’”
Years later, they are taking their volleyball as seriously as they do with anything else they are involved in. They are also key members of RC’s girls basketball team and student leaders on campus. First and foremost is their faith and family.
Shelton saw the potential in the Algers as youngsters and tried recruiting them to the Delta Valley Volleyball Club. They didn’t start playing until the seventh grade, and that was for Ripon Christian’s middle-school team.
“It’s something that my family decided (against),” Mikaela Alger said. “Family time and going to church on Sundays are very important to us. Regardless, we were just going to work hard at school, at home or as athletes.”
Shelton, himself a year-round volleyball coach for Delta Valley, respects that.
“They had the ability and they had the opportunity (to play club), but they decided that wasn’t important to them,” he said. “In this day in age that’s refreshing.”