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VOLLEYBALL: Varied attack helps Ripon defeat Galt in D-IV playoff opener
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon outside hitter Caitlynn Campbell crushes a spike past the block of Galt’s Kaya Weaver. - photo by GARY JENSEN/

RIPON — Ripon High relied on a parade of hitters Tuesday in sweeping past visiting Galt in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section IV volleyball playoffs.

"I was proud of the efforts by our girls. They're peaking at the right time," said Indians coach Chuck Sterni of his No. 3-seeded squad.

Ripon (21-9) defeated the No. 14 Warriors (8-9) in three games, 25-11, 25-14, 25-15.

The Indians will host sixth-seeded Calaveras in the next round on Thursday.

Against Galt, Ripon took control from the get-go in the opener only to see the Warriors battle back in Game 2.

"We were caught in the short game," Sterni said, with the goal of playing around Galt’s 6-foot-2 senior middle blocker Kaya Weaver.

Added Danika Matuska, the Indians' junior opposite: "We were aware of her and their libero (Natalie Sprrake) who was scrappy."

Matuska was in the middle of the see-saw second game featuring seven ties and seven lead changes.

"It was good to get that first set," she said.

Ripon jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the opener, getting a kill from Caitlynn Campbell and a service ace from Avery McKiernan.

The Warriors drew to within two in the middle of Game 1, 17-15, only to see Matuska and Sierra Barrios respond with a pair of spikes and Kaya Whittaker score on an ace.

Sophomore setter Reagan Wilkerson delivered the final blow with an ace.

The Warriors behind Weaver, Sprake, Makailey Machado and Ella Pearman charged back in Game 2.

Neveah Pate and Ella Pearman helped out by delivering on a pair of aces.

Down 10-9, Ripon reeled off 11 straight points behind the serving of Matuska, who dropped in four aces on that run. McKiernan scored on a pair of kills and Kylee Fullmer also scored on a spike.

The Indians took a commanding 21-10 lead, closing out with Wilkerson ace and a Campbell kill.

McKenzie Loechler, McKiernan, Campbell and Matuska scored off spikes early in the close-out game.

Fullmer kept the momentum going with a couple of more kills. She and McKiernan both finished with seven kills in the three-game match.

McKiernan on the service line delivered three scoring aces to give her team a sizable 21-10 advantage.

Whittaker polished off Galt with a kill.

The Warriors' top hitter Weaver finished with seven kills and three blocks.

Still, the Indians were able to neutralize her attacks by keeping her out of position.

"Our goal was to keep her out of the system," Sterni said.