RIPON -- Winning each match quickly is important to the Ripon High volleyball team.
In the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV playoffs, sweeping an opponent shows the next team the Indians are tough.
As if anyone doubted anything less from top-ranked Ripon. The Indians stumbled in the third game against Le Grand but claimed a 3-0 victory, 25-13, 25-15, 25-22, on Thursday.
"We wanted to send a message that we can get it done to the other teams," Kirsten Duren said.
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Ripon (33-7) made five errors in a six-point Le Grand run in the third game, shrinking its lead to 21-19. Duren said the Indians had strayed from their groove when coach Larry Keethe made some substitutions.
It wasn't the players off the bench making the mistakes, though, Keethe said. His team has been together long enough to know where to be on the court and how to play with each other.
The fact that the Indians regrouped in time to keep their night short was proof of how hard they've been working on close-game situations.
"We've lost some close matches because we couldn't finish teams off at the end," Keethe said. "Even in the easy games, you want to finish well. Anybody can come back from 15 points."
Le Grand (24-6) was reduced to tipping and dumping the ball because there was virtually no hitting through the wall-like net presence of Ashley Robinson, Lauren Fedderson and Duren. Robinson led the Indians with six blocks.
Jennifer Hansen had five kills and Briana Giampaoli added four, finding more success by pushing the ball around or tipping it over outstretched Ripon arms.
"We had to play smarter at the net," Giampaoli said. "They were definitely strong up front."
Le Grand coach Gia Priddell said the section's No. 8-seeded Bulldogs found it hard to take something off their hitting in an effort to outsmart the Indians. But she thought Le Grand's defense responded well and the Southern League champions kept playing hard to make the third game close.
"The biggest thing with this team is we have really good chemistry," Priddell said. "At the beginning of the season, my assistant and I looked at each other and said 'It's going to be a long season.' I told the girls they put Le Grand on the map. Now we have to keep going."
Priddell loses just one senior, Marlen Cabrera, from the first-time conference championship team.
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