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VOLLEYBALL: Top-seeded Knights slay Dragons in Division V quarterfinal
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon Christian's Emily Van Groningen (15) hammers one of her 17 kills against Delta Charter on Thursday. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

RIPON — Following an opening-round bye for top-seeded Ripon Christian in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V volleyball playoffs, the Knights came out on fire Thursday night and throttled visiting No. 8 Delta Charter 25-6, 25-4, 25-4 in a quarterfinal contest.

Ripon Christian (33-5) varied its attack, pounding out 15 kills in the first game and then pulled the serving genie out if its quiver with Kali O’Conner (seven aces) pounding out six aces in the second set – more points by ace then the four the Dragons (14-6) of Tracy could muster in that set.

“We have been serving well all of league,” Knights coach Kayla Kootstra said. “That has been one of our strengths and we have been working on consistency. We struggled with consistency at the beginning of the season so we really emphasize that we want to make 90 percent of our serves and make sure first that they are in the court and then they are tough.

“We take that very seriously at practice because we have to serve tough at each other to make ourselves better passers. I think we have taken that to heart and done a good job making sure our serves are strong and consistent.”

In the third set, Ripon Christian’s Kristin Van Elderen ended the match on a 10-0 run behind five aces, again with more points by ace than Delta Charter could put up in the game.

“Coach told us to keep our serves on them and good serving wins games,” Van Elderen said. “We were working hard on keeping our serves in the court.”

Normally displaying her prowess as a middle blocker, Emily Van Groningen added the back row to her resume as in addition to her 12 kills she made 10 digs.

“To be honest, I am not a natural back-row player,” Van Groningen said. “But I really worked on my back row play this year and I just have that mindset of going after every ball and the same thing with the front row.”

Two of Van Groningen’s kills were from the back row.

“I’m usually not very good at those (back-row kills),” Van Groningen said. “But coach told me that I had better get them in so I got them in.”

Serving up Van Groningen and Ava Van Groningen (nine kills) was Jenna Hofman with 27 assists.

“We have a really great offense,” Hofman said. “If I can get the ball to them then they are going to put it down and that’s great.”

The defending SJS Division V champion Knights will host No. 4 Bear River of Grass Valley in a semifinal tilt Tuesday at 7 p.m.