RIPON — Top-seeded Ripon hosted No. 9 El Dorado of Placerville on Thursday night in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV volleyball playoffs with the Cougars dominating the net and coming away with a 25-22, 16-25, 25-20, 25-21 road win.
“We tend to do pretty well on away games,” El Dorado coach Kalani Pananganan said. “This is not the first time we have had to go into someone else’s house and then do what we need to do. My kids are pretty solid and even-keeled. They tend to work hard.
“This is not our first time as a lower seed. We won a Division III Section title a few years ago and we were the first No. 10 seed to do so and I want to hope we can be the first ninth seed to do it in Division IV.”
Net play was huge in this match with the team scoring on more kills and blocks winning each game.
“They had a really big hitter,” Indians coach Tyler White said. “And my girls play a really good net game and I told them to keep lining it up and they did a really good job, but I think El Dorado just pounded it a little more than we did.”
“This was a phenomenal season with a really good team. I came into this season after having a massive stroke in July and this team would visit me in the hospital and at home. I have coached some of these seniors since they were in seventh grade and this team has a special place in my heart. They saw me through some very difficult times and I am very sad it is over.”
With the score tied 14-14 in the second set, Brooke Kaiser (four kills, four aces) went on an eight-point service run behind a pair of aces to help lead Ripon (19-6) to the 25-16 win. El Dorado (14-11) trailed by one point early in the third game and then dominated the rest of the evening for the win.
Following a 2018 semifinal finish in the SJS Division IV playoffs, the Indians went on a roll, winning three CIF State Division V tournament games before losing a heartbreaking five-set match in the Regional Finals, dropping that fifth set 14-16.
“We came into this season having to live up to last year’s expectations in going as far as we did,” Ripon’s Caryssa McKeon said. “More than half of our team was returning and we knew we had potential.
“I am proud of the struggles and mountains we overcame this year because it was rough at times, but we battled through it.”
McKeon finished with eight kills. Teammate Jordynn Russell added 12 kills, Shannon Johnson had 17 digs and 21 assists and Alyssa Barrios chipped in four blocks and four aces.
“Last year we had a really good year,” Russell said. “We went really far and we had high expectations this year but we did not go as far as we wanted to.
“We all worked well together and it was a fun season overall and I am so happy I had this season as my senior year. I hope we leave behind the want to win with the girls coming up.”