All-District Volleyball: Ripon sparkplug Duren named Bee's best for second straight year

Player of the year: Kirsten Duren, Ripon

It's become standard operating procedure for the Ripon High volleyball team to play for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV championship.

For the third consecutive year, the Indians played for the blue banner at UC Davis, dominating the local landscape. And Kirsten Duren was in the middle of it all.

The 5-foot-5 sparkplug had a hand in nearly every play this season. She split time with Kelsey Johnston at setter, dealing out 453 assists. She pounded away as an outside hitter for 404 kills. She was one of the Indians' top passers, making 313 successful passes. She also had 88 aces and 79 blocks.

For the second consecutive season, Duren was the best in the area. Duren has been named The Bee's 2008 high school volleyball player of the year.

For Duren, the Indians' record-setting season -- they went 45-6 and advanced to the CIF Northern California Regional Championship, one game away from playing for the state title -- was the real payoff.

"We felt we were going to be pretty good," Duren said. "But I didn't think we'd get so far. And we were right there; we could've made state."

Ripon was more than right there. In the NorCal game, it beat Christian Brothers in the first two games before the Falcons rallied, winning the final three games. It was a rematch Duren hoped to get.

In their section championship match, Christian Brothers made it look easy in a three-game sweep of Ripon. But it was a blessing in disguise.

"We played some of our most memorable volleyball after that," Duren said.

First came a long trip to Sutter of the Northern Section, and a short match. The Indians swept the Huskies in three easy victories. Next was a trip to Menlo -- the top seed.

"I'll remember that match the most," Duren said. "I think that was the best we played this season. Everybody was making plays. We trusted each other so much. It was an awesome feeling."

Moments after Ripon beat Menlo in five games, the Menlo crowd stood and gave the Indians an ovation.

A personal highlight came for Duren after the Sutter game. Boise State -- a school she'd already committed to -- called her and told her the good news: Her partial scholarship had become a full-ride.

She'll also get a chance to play right away in Idaho.

"They had two setters on the roster, a senior and a freshman," Duren said. "The senior's going to graduate, and the freshman quit the team. There's myself and one more setter coming in, so the coaches have told us we're going to get a chance to play right away."

Boise State sent an assistant to watch Duren in Ripon's final match against Christian Brothers. But they already know what they're going to get: A gritty competitor who gives her team a chance to win every time they're on the court.

The Ripon High volleyball program has seen that the last four years.

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at or 578-2300.

Coach of the year: Rene Lindberg, Modesto

In her first season as the Panthers' head coach, Lindberg saw Modesto go 18-5, complete an undefeated Modesto Metro Conference season and roll into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs. The Panthers swept Vintage of Napa in the first round -- the first volleyball playoff victory in school history -- and beat perennial power Davis of Yolo before losing to eventual section champion Nevada Union in the semifinals.

First Team

Second Team


Ripon Christian senior

Led the Knights to back-to-back section D-V crowns and two NorCal appearances. The senior averaged 9.9 assists -- tops in the section -- four digs, 1.5 blocks and an ace per game.


Denair senior

The 6-foot middle blocker was second in the section in kills (386), eighth in blocks (103) and ninth in aces (114). Two-time SL MVP has a 3.17 GPA. School-record 104 kills her junior season.


Hilmar senior

One of the region's top setters, Harris was the WAC MVP after averaging 8.1 assists a game -- up from 6.3 as a junior. She tossed aside crutches and played in the semifinal despite an ankle injury.


Hilmar senior

The 6-footer averaged 3.3 kills and improved her kill efficiency from 40 percent as a junior to 48 percent this season. Never backed down from a challenge and led Hilmar to D-IV semifinal.


Ripon senior

One of the district's top defenders, Perkins' value was evident as she was named the TVL MVP -- over two-time District Player of the Year Kirsten Duren. She helped Indians reach NorCal D-V final.


Buhach Colony junior

The 6-foot front-row player was the CCC MVP and one of the district's best at the net. Her kill percentage was 49 percent, while Callahan converted 84 percent of her digs and 94 percent of her serves.


Modesto senior

Three-year starter led Panthers to three playoff berths. Had stunning MMC conversion rates -- 86 percent kills, 94 percent blocks and 73 percent assists. More than an athlete, she boasts a 3.7 GPA.


Oakdale senior

A four-year varsity starter, the outside hitter was the VOL MVP after averaging three kills and three digs per game. A strong defender, she helped Oakdale to two runner-up finishes in the section D-III playoffs.


Oakdale junior

The outside hitter, who has a 3.0 GPA, averaged three kills and three digs a game while leading the Mustangs to the NorCal D-III Tournament. A team captain, she was promoted to varsity as a sophomore.


Golden Valley senior

After earning a reputation as a stout defender her junior year, the Cougars moved Hague to setter this year out of necessity. She adapted quickly, running the offense efficiently and leading GV to the CCC crown.


Ripon Christian senior

The 6-1 middle blocker set aside her basketball career two years ago to focus on volleyball and signed with the University of the Pacific. She averaged 5.9 kills and 1.9 blocks a game.


Ripon sophomore

She was the engine that kept the Indians rolling, averaging 6.8 assists a game and keeping the ball spread out so foes couldn't focus on just one of Ripon's talented hitters. High of 31 assists vs. Sonora.

*Previous All-District selection