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VOLLEYBALL: Raising the game
Four all-league selections from area garner top honors after historic 2019
Bulletin boys volleyball 2019
Ripon Christian’s Cade Alger hits it over the Hilmar block from Joseph Alvernaz (19) and Ryan Handy (10). - photo by GARY JENSEN/

Four boys volleyball teams in the area enjoyed a milestone 2019 season and were appropriately rewarded with postseason honors.
Three-sport standout Cade Alger is Most Outstanding Player in the Trans-Valley League after leading Ripon Christian (20-4) to its first Sac-Joaquin Section final-round and CIF Northern California Regional Championships appearances.
Lathrop (27-3) split its two thrilling non-league encounters with Alger and the Knights and went unbeaten in its inaugural campaign in the Western Athletic Conference. Gabe Gutierrez was named Outstanding Hitter of the WAC.
In the Valley Oak League, Weston Ranch (13-4) and East Union (12-4) overthrew Manteca — the Buffaloes claimed the first two boys volleyball titles in the VOL — to capture a co-championship. Weston Ranch middle blocker Armando Mendoza was named MVP, while East Union’s Flavio Mercado is Most Outstanding.
Ripon Christian managed to stand out above the rest. Aside from a 17-match winning streak that included five-set road victories at Hilmar and Livingston in league and triumphs over both East Union and Lathrop, the Knights became the first school to represent the southern half of the SJS in a section final. They lost to Bear River in four games in the Division III title match and lost its first NorCal match in four at Valley Christian of San Jose.
Ripon Christian remains undefeated in TVL play at 16-0, and the 6-foot-8 Alger was a central figure in the team’s success. Bound for Seattle University for basketball, Alger paced the Knights with 358 kills (4.4 per set) and 49 digs along with 41 blocks and 26 aces.
“Over the last two seasons, Cade transformed himself from an athlete trying to figure out the nuances of the game to one of the most impactful players in the area,” RC coach Kevin Tameling said. “While he excelled at attacking, he also influenced matches with his passing, serving and leadership.”
Tameling earned Coach of the Year in the TVL, and Lathrop’s Heather Anderson got the same honor in the WAC. She also lauds the leadership of Gutierrez, one of four Spartans seniors who were part of the program’s first season two years ago.
Lathrop began its historic campaign with 19 wins in a row, went 12-0 in the WAC without dropping a set and lost to El Camino in the second round of the SJS Division II playoffs.
Gutierrez racked up 140 kills (3.9 per set), 39 aces, 14 blocks and 118 digs in league play.
“This season, Game really stepped up and became a strong leader for us,” Anderson said. “He developed into an amazing volleyball player through his relentless work in the offseason. With us adding a JV team this season, he also became a mentor to our younger players who really looked up to him.
“Gabe had high expectations for himself and for his team and it was that type of leadership that drove our success.”
Mendoza was the leader points producer for Weston Ranch, finishing the season with 122 blocks, 108 kills and 54 aces. The Cougars squeaked out a five-game win over Stone Ridge Christian in Division III for their first postseason win.
East Union forced the title share by beating Weston Ranch in five in one of its final matches of the regular season. Mercado, only a sophomore, accumulated 114 kills, 93 blocks and 22 digs.
Here’s a closer look at the rest of the all-league results for area schools:

Valley Oak League
Nine of the 10 All-VOL first-team spots went to Manteca Unified student-athletes: Weston Ranch’s Josh Ico, Mailo Boyot and Jimmy Nguyen; East Union’s Jonathan Castañeda and Parmbir Khattra; Manteca’s Rovick Hombrebueno and Adrian Gonzales; and Sierra’s Cyrus Hunter and Carson Hibbs.
Making the second-team: East Union’s Alec Alegre and Austin Scott; Manteca’s Zach Huffstutler and Jeremy Gabriel; Weston Ranch’s Raul Melgarejo and Andre Salazar and Sierra’s Austin Cook.

Trans-Valley League
First-year senior setter Michael Kamps was among the All-TVL selections for Ripon Christian, joining sophomore middle blocker Braden Van Groningen and outside hitter Jacob Van Groningen. Defensive specialist Ryan Dotinga earned honorable mention.
Ripon sophomore outside hitter Simon DeFreitas also made all-league.

Western Athletic Conference
Senior outside hitter Tyler Riggleman led Lathrop with 151 kills in league and was selected to the All-WAC first team with sophomore setter Rael Carmesis (356 assists).
Middle blocker Adrian Corona received a spot on the second team, and Mark Fabian got honorable mention.
Ceres’ Christian Murry is MVP of the WAC.