RIPON — The Ripon Christian boys volleyball team does not rebuild — it reloads.
After going undefeated and winning the inaugural Trans-Valley League boys volleyball championship in 2018, its 25-16, 25-16, 25-23 sweep of second-place visiting Hilmar on Thursday clinched another title for the Knights despite graduating 10 from last year’s squad.
The Yellowjackets (3-3 TVL, 14-15 overall) nearly upset the reigning champs last week, but Ripon Christian (7-0, 15-2) battled back from a two-game deficit to escape Hilmar with the win.
“This is two years in a row for us,” Ripon Christian coach Kevin Tameling said. “We had a new program last year with guys that loved playing volleyball but hadn’t done it a whole lot. We had a great senior group last year — 10 guys. That was a lot of leadership and guys that played a lot of minutes.
“We had some new guys coming out this year. We had to figure it out really quickly, especially with our two setters being first-year players. But they are coming along and are getting better every single day.”
After falling behind in the third set 14-5, Ripon Christian battled back to tie the game at 17 with ties to follow at 18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 and 23. After the last tie a pair of unforced errors by the Yellowjackets gave the Knights the set and the match.
Cade Alger led Ripon Christian with 17 kills and three blocks.
“We had a lot of errors in that third set,” Alger said. “And they were playing solid.
“Once we minimized our errors it showed and we ended up winning that set.”
Jacob Van Groningen had four of his nine kills for Ripon Christian down the stretch in that pivotal third set.
“We tried not to get down on ourselves that last set,” Van Groningen said. “We used advantage of the free balls they gave us and we put the ball in the court.”
Michael Kamps had 14 assists, two aces, a kill and a block for the Knights and Lukas Van Groningen, the other first-year setter, dished out 11 assists with two kills and a block.
“I really came out this year just to have fun,” Kamps said. “To kind of try something new out.
“I really have a lot of fun with the guys on my team and I have really been enjoying volleyball this season learning the setter position.”
Ripon Christian has next week off and concludes the TVL season Tuesday, April 23, across the street against rival Ripon.