There’s no secret about it, Ripon Christian High is the powerhouse in Southern League volleyball. With three consecutive league championships and three consecutive undefeated seasons on their resume, the Knights’ reputation has been just as much of a weapon as their skill on the court—and no one knows that better than Turlock Christian High.
But things might be changing.
On Thursday, the Eagles hosted the Knights in a thrilling five-set barn burner. Though TC lost 3-2 (22-25, 25-22, 27-29, 25-17, 15-7), its girls managed to put a chink in RC’s armor as they prevented the Knights from a straight-set victory for the first time in their rivalry.
“We felt great to be able to take two sets from them because I don’t think anyone’s been able to do that, at least not this year,” TC head coach Ken Wynn said. “Obviously, there’s some disappointment in losing after leading 2-1, but I’m very proud of the girls. They played great.”
The first two sets of the night were nearly identical with the two teams battling back and forth, point for point, to split late stage victories. The exciting beginning to the match was topped in the third set as—to the shock of RC’s fans in attendance—the Eagles snatched back momentum after recovering from a 10 point deficit with a 29-27 win.
“That was an amazing comeback,” Wynn said of his team’s third set effort.
Much of TC’s success was predicated on the ability of Sarah Amaral and three other Eagles to not only play, but excel through injury. But despite the inspired play, the combination of fatigue and the relentless play of RC standout Andie Shelton—who finished with 28 kills and 18 blocks—proved to be too much for TC in the final two sets.
“She really tested our defense,” Wynn said of Shelton. “RC kept coming and our girls started to run out of energy.”
Amaral finished with 16 kills, while Tiffany Franco chipped in with 38 assists and Meghan Mark put in 15 digs.
TC will participate in today’s Carmichael Invitational Tournament in Sacramento before returning to SL play against Mariposa County High on Monday. As for their rivalry with RC, the Eagles are circling the Oct. 21 rematch on their calendars.
“RC is beatable this year. Our girls are ready right now to play them again,” Wynn said. “They’re confident that they can win.”