DAVIS -- For the fourth time in two years, Ripon High volleyball found itself in a big match against Christian Brothers of Sacramento.
And for the fourth time in a row, the Falcons showed once again they seem to have the Indians' number.
Kayla Neto, one of four girls on the Christian Brothers roster who checks in at 6-feet or taller, pounded 12 kills to lead the Falcons to a 27-25, 27-25, 25-16 victory over Ripon in Thursday's Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship match at UC Davis. Last year, CBS beat Ripon in four games for the title.
The loss was particularly bitter for the Indians, who were one point from victory in each of the first two games before ultimately falling.
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Ripon's season isn't over, though. Thanks to their finals appearance, the Indians will play in the CIF Northern California Regional Division IV playoffs. They'll play a first-round match on the road Tuesday. The full brackets will be released by the CIF on Sunday.
"We played two good games, and we should have won the first one," Ripon coach Larry Keethe said. "In the third game, we didn't play very well at all."
Ripon countered Christian Brothers' superior height for much of the first game, putting up enough of a block to slow Neto and 6-foot outside hitter Brittany Woodard. But the Indians appeared to have a point inadvertently taken away from them by the scoreboard, and couldn't end the game after holding a 24-21 lead.
Late in the set, Ripon had a 20-15 lead when Christian Brothers had a kill. But the point wasn't put on the scoreboard until the next play. When the correct point was given to the Falcons, a point appeared to be incorrectly deducted from the Indians.
They recovered from that to lead 24-21. However, the Falcons scored six of the next seven points to take the opening game.
"We still had a three-point lead," Keethe said. "We still should have put them away.
"That point wasn't the difference in this match. It's too bad it happened, but it wasn't the scorekeeper or the official's fault."
The second game was a near mirror image of the first, with the Indians controlling the pace throughout. At the end, they found themselves with a 24-23 lead, only to watch Christian Brothers sophomore Erika Cuevas serve an ace to tie it up. The Falcons scored the final two points for the game. In the third game, Ripon never got going.
"You see how tall they are when you're up next to them," Ripon freshman setter Kelsey Johnston said. "We don't have that kind of height, so we just had to keep making plays."
Next up for Ripon: A road NorCal game for the second consecutive year.
"That third game doesn't bother me," Keethe said. "The girls will be ready to play on Tuesday. I think they'll be pretty mad. We'll be OK."
Staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 578-2300.