RIPON — Experience continued to serve the Ripon Christian High volleyball team well on Tuesday.
The senior-dominated Knights swept Valley Christian of Dublin 25-16, 25-15, 25-17 in seemingly effortless fashion to advance to the Northern California Division V semifinals.
The No. 4 Knights will travel to Watsonville on Saturday to play top-seeded St. Francis, which defeated East Nicolaus 25-8, 25-7, 25-9 on Tuesday.
Candice Adema was a dynamo, leading Ripon Christian (22-15) with 24 assists, two aces and seven kills. Andrea Terpstra had eight kills and six blocks.
Terpstra's defensive presence was tested by Vikings' hitter Edirin Sido, who had nine kills. The tallest Valley Christian player at 6-foot 1-inch, Sido was targeted early by Ripon Christian.
"Andrea was doing what she was supposed to do, which is wait until the ball is passed to react," Ripon Christian coach Tiger Shelton said. "But it was an obvious set. I told them, 'If it's a perfect pass, be on the middle.' That started taking over."
Still, Adema said Sido kept the Knights busy and credited Terpstra and Kelsey Green for stopping her.
"She was the strongest middle we've seen so far," Adema said. "Our middle blockers really stepped up and faced her."
The Knights know they will have an even tougher challenge on Saturday. Watsonville is a two-hour drive away, far from the comforts for their gymnasium in which an estimated 800 fans cheered them on Tuesday.
St. Francis didn't let St. Nicolaus in double digits in their second-round game.
After the way Ripon Christian played on Tuesday, though, Shelton sounded confident in his team's abilities, particularly the seven seniors.
"They made the smart plays," Shelton said. "I'm so excited to see them do the things the way they practiced. They're playing good ball. They're confident in their game. They're not surprised to be here like they were last year. It's amazing what a year will do for you."
Last year RC lost in the semifinals to another Watsonville team, Mt. Maradona.
Adema said staying focused will be crucial Saturday. Shelton hopes the team follows her lead, particularly her competitiveness. The Knights have a tendency to "relax and have fun," after taking early leads, and don't dominate a game the way he knows they can.
"They're going to be hard to beat," Adema acknowledged. "They play a lot like us. The competition level is equal."
Bee staff writer Kelly Jones can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. or 578-2300.