RIPON — Ripon’s Mia Van Lewen does not back down.
A lot of hitters tend to pull back and go for the safe hit when things are not going well. Not Van Lewen. After arch-rival Escalon pulled out to a 7-1 lead to start the night Wednesday, the ball was set to Van Lewen and she pulverized it into the Cougars floor. She did it again to make the score 9-3 and 11-4, giving her team the spark it needed to come back to win the first set 25-22 and sweep the night with wins in the next two games 25-21 and 29-27 in Trans-Valley League action.
“It’s all about having confidence,” Van Lewen said. “And when I have confidence I do well. And when everyone is motivated I get energized and I just go for it.
“Usually I just hit the ball, but when they sit on me I sometimes just do it softly and try to outthink them.”
Van Lewen finished with 12 kills, 14 digs and a block.
After going ahead 22-21 in the first set, the Indians (9-2 TVL, 18-7 overall) did not trail again until the third set when the Cougars (6-5, 20-10) rebounded from a 21-11 deficit to take game-point leads at 26-25 and 27-26.
Enter sophomore Sydney Thomason (10 kills, four blocks, three digs, ace).
Thomason tied the score at 27-27 with a kill and after Escalon hit the ball long, Thomason ended the night and a thrilling set with a resounding block for the 29-27 win.
“I was thinking on that last block that I needed to get it done,” Thomason said. I told myself that I needed to finish it.
“Tonight, it was all about the energy. When we had it we were on top and when we didn’t we were on the bottom.”
Ripon coach Tyler White knew not to get too comfortable in that last game.
“Tonight was high-intensity and fun volleyball,” White said. “Escalon is a great team and I never for one second doubted that they were going to come back. I kept telling the girls not to get complacent and not to get back on their feet because they were going to come back. It’s Escalon – they were going to come back.
“Like I told the girls in the team room, they battled and fixed their mistakes along the way and they didn’t let the energy of Escalon bog them down. They fought with every ounce of energy they had in them and I couldn’t be prouder.”
The Indians started the third set on with a 7-0 lead behind the pinpoint serving of Jordynn Russell (six aces, six kills two digs) who had three aces during that spurt.
Brooke Kaiser (four kills, three digs, assist) helped give Ripon the lead for good in the first set. She came to the service line trailing 18-21 and went on a 7-0 run, yielding the serve with a 24-21 lead.
Rachel Sausedo posted 29 assists, nine digs and four aces for the Indians. Shannon Johnson added 11 kills, two digs and a block, Caryssa McKeon chipped in seven kills and a dig, Alyssa Barrios had six kills and a dig and Brooke Kaiser had four kills, three digs and a block.