State

Ripon looks to end 8-match skid against Christian Brothers in NorCal volleyball finale

Is the ninth time the charm for Ripon High? Or will it just be more of the same tonight as the Indians visit Christian Brothers of Sacramento in the Northern California championship match.

The match starts at 7 p.m.

The Sac-Joaquin Section rivals have met eight times in the last five years, and Ripon is still looking for its first victory.

Four of those matches were for section championships, including two weeks ago when Ripon lost the first two games before rallying to tie it at 4 -- and then lost the fifth game.

Coach Larry Keethe has built Ripon into a regional power since taking over in 2005, and has a 176-41 record. He doesn't think last week's loss will be a mental burden.

"The burning desire to win will outweigh any mental letdown," Keethe said. "I think losing that match and the section title makes the team that much hungrier. There is no team they want to beat more than Christian Brothers."

The last two times they met, the matches went to five games. Ripon won the first two games in last year's NorCal final, before the Falcons rallied to tie it and won the fifth game, 15-8.

Ripon received a boost this week with the strong play of Coryn Hernandez (pictured), who gives the Indians more offensive and defensive options, as well as another quality hitter and blocker for CB to fret about.

The trio of 6-foot-4 Megan Anders, 6-foot Katie Hoekman and 5-9 Erika Cuevas provided most of the Falcons' key points last week. Cuevas is a quality outside hitter, according to Keethe, while her taller teammates make it difficult to attack CB's middle.

"We must serve and pass extremely well," Keethe said. "Passing and serving well, and slowing down their three best hitters, will lead us to victory."

The winner earns one more match -- Saturday's Division 4 state championship at UC Irvine against La Jolla Country Day or The Bishop School.

Christian Brothers fell to Santa Fe Christian in last year's state final, and in 2006 it lost to Marymount of Los Angeles.

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