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VOLLEYBALL: RC middle blocker Emily Van Groningen signs with Pacific
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon Christian senior Emily Van Groningen signed her national letter of intent to play volleyball for University of the Pacific on Wednesday. - photo by Contributed

Emily Van Groningen is enjoying her week, so far.

On Tuesday, Ripon Christian’s standout middle blocker put away the final point of a thrilling five-set win over rival Ripon in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation Division IV Regional Championships.

Today, Van Groningen is an official signee to the University of the Pacific. She and the Knights (36-5) are travelling to Redding tonight to face University Prep.

Committed since the summer of 2020, the 6-foot-3 Van Groningen inked her national letter of intent on Wednesday at the Ripon Christian gym.

“Honestly, this has been the best week of my life,” she said. “Beating Ripon yesterday was crazy, and I was able to get the last point with a kill. Signing today is great, but now we’re ready to go to Redding tomorrow and hopefully upset the No. 2 seed.”

She’d love to wrap up her career at Ripon Christian by helping the program win its second state championship. No matter what happens, UOP is getting an accomplished middle who has played at high levels for her school and club (Rage Volleyball).

Van Groningen has led Ripon Christian to two Sac-Joaquin Section titles and was named co-MVP of the Southern Athletic League as a sophomore. She is the third Ripon Christian volleyball player to sign with Pacific in recent memory following Andrea Terpstra (class of 2009) and Andie Shelton (2014).

Van Groningen has been coached by UOP assistant Katie Hoekman while with Rage Volleyball, but she has had a desire to attend and play for the West Coast Conference private school out of Stockton since the sixth grade.

 “It’s close to home, and I always found that to be a big factor,” she said. “The campus by itself is so beautiful and it’s a small private school. I always thought a bigger school could be too overwhelming for me.

“I’ve met all the girls on the team and they’re super welcoming, and I love the coaches and their style of coaching.”

Pacific is led by 11th-year coach Greg Gibbons, the 2014 Co-WCC Coach of the Year. The Tigers are currently 8-6 in conference play and 11-14 overall.

Van Groningen will major in kinesiology or health and sports exercise and aspires to become a nurse.

“Since I was in middle school, my heart was set on UOP,” she said. “I’m just super excited to be a Tiger.”