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VOLLEYBALL: Ripon closes the gap
Improved Indians compete well at Escalon but swept
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon’s Avery McKiernan is challenged at the net by Escalon blockers Bella Cormack (23) and Leah Wheeler (12). - photo by GARY JENSEN/

ESCALON — Ripon showed it can compete with Escalon on Thursday.

Getting the better of the once-beaten Trans-Valley League favorite is another thing. The Indians were swept 23-25, 22-25, 15-25, as the more-experienced Escalon took full control in the final set.

It’s the second time this season that the traditional rivals have faced off. The Cougars (2-0 TVL, 14-1 overall) defeated Ripon 25-14, 25-20 in the Orestimba Tournament four weeks ago. Ripon coach Chuck Sterni said his team has improved with its hitting and defensive discipline since then but realizes it still has work to do.

“We’re a young team and we’re getting stronger as we develop and grow,” Sterni said. “I think it’s (going to take) a lot of discipline and basic fundamentals and pushing ourselves to be stronger. The bottom line is executing. We want to get stronger in our execution and we’ll love to see them when they come to our house.”

Ripon (1-1, 10-6) slugged it out with the Cougars for two sets but let the match get away quickly in the third. Amanda Murphy’s kill gave Escalon the biggest lead of the match at 20-10. Outside hitter Emily Vickers secured the win with a perfectly-placed spike to the back line.

The Indians’ best moments came in the back-and-forth opener, but that was spoiled by late serving errors. They staked their largest lead at 11-7, and Escalon responded with six unanswered points. Ripon did not lead again for the rest of the game but twice tied it, first on Riley Slikker’s ace to make it 16-16 and later on Sierra Barrios’ thunderous kill that evened it at 23-23.

Ripon gift-wrapped Escalon’s 23rd and 24th points with missed serves, however. After the Indians called a time out, Rylie Lattig locked up Game 1 for Escalon with an ace. Ripon made five of its 12 service errors in the first set.

“If our serves are on, we usually win,” Sterni said. “When that started to break down we had some struggles there. That’s what keeps us in the game.”

Ripon did well to give itself a shot to steal the second game after trailing 23-18. Barrios was in on three blocks for successive points, but Escalon put an end to the Indians’ comeback when Valeria Spurgeon blocked Danika Matuska in one of the match’s longest rallies.

The Indians will look to rebound next Tuesday at home against Hughson