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Youth serves Ripon girls 16U well in Junior Olympics
Ripon Aquatics water polo
Ripon Aquatics under-16 teammates Reyna Biedermann and Sami Scheid work to lock down the attack. Photo contributed

The Ripon Aquatics 16-under girls water polo team held its own in the USA Water Polo Junior Olympics, which took place last week from Thursday to Sunday at various sites in the Bay Area.  

The exhausting four-day gauntlet included games played at Las Positas College in Livermore, Santa Cruz High, Mountain View High, Independence High (San Jose) and Campolindo High (Moraga).

Ripon won five of its eight contests and ended it with a win against the same team it started with, outlasting Cal Republic Red ‘B’ 7-4. The team finished in 21nd place out of 24 in the competitive Silver Bracket of the Classic Division.  

The team fared well despite its youth and inexperience; only one player had previous experience in the Junior Olympics, and most would qualify as under-14.

“Some of our largest contributors could actually still be playing 14U or 12U water polo,” Ripon coach Christian Britton said. “It's going to be really fun to watch these athletes continue to improve and realize their potential. The positive culture they are building is infectious.”

Reyna Biedermann was the team’s top two-way contributor with 23 goals and 20 steals/blocks, to go with three assists. She erupted for six goals and six steals in an 11-6 victory over Santa Clara.

Goalie Tiffani Hunter also turned in a big performance in that match, racking up 18 saves. She totaled 90 saves for the tournament while chipping in five assists to the attack.

Other contributors: Kennadi Winter (two goals, two assists, three steals), Maddy Curtiss (steal), Emery Biedermann (two goals, three assists, two steals), Lauren Ellis (four goals, eight assists, 19 steals), Sami Scheid (five goals, three assists, three steals), Amy Fadeff (goal, two assists, three steals), Giana Ramos (10 goals, five assists, five steals), Kiera Brink (two goals, assist, five steals), Faith Fasani (goal, three assists), Maddie Stewart (goal, assist) and Crystallynn Tran (three goals, two assists, four steals).

Ripon opened pool play with a 9-3 triumph over Cal Republic Red ‘B,’ and dropped a 10-3 decision to SB 805. Ripon then faced MoStan (10-2 win), Skip (5-2 loss), Maverick (6-5 loss) out of Pennsylvania and NorCal Team ‘B’ (7-5 win) before taking down Santa Clara and getting a rematch with Cal Republic Red ‘B’ on the final day.

“Every team aims to peak at the end of the season, and it was so fun to watch us play our best water polo of the season at JOs,” Britton said. “Winning five games in the Silver division is a tremendous accomplishment for this young team, and I could not be prouder of them all.”



Ripon took seventh out of 18th in the Classic Division’s Bronze Bracket, going 3-5.

Wins came against Rain City (9-5), ARWPC Blue (9-5) and Southern (11-7). Ripon also took on SOAC (13-6), Central Coast (7-5), Skip (9-6), Eugene City (13-10) and MoStan (9-8) in defeats.

Haily Knief, Mia Sickler-Lopez and Kennedy Brubaker were Ripon’s top scorers. Blair and Lee were among the defensive leaders, along with Brubaker and Sickler-Lopez.

“After a rocky start to their summer trying to find their groove as a team, the girls ended their season playing their best,” coach Molly Burton said. “I am extremely proud of them for overcoming mental challenges over the four days and having fun playing the game they love."