Ripon's Duren dominates

RIPON -- From kills and assists to even singing the National Anthem before her team's volleyball playoff match, Ripon High junior Kirsten Duren did a little of everything Tuesday night.

She pounded balls from the left side and, later in the match, allowed her teammates the glory by dishing out 10 assists as the Indians swept Golden Sierra of Garden Valley 25-23, 25-17, 25-19 in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV semifinal at Ripon High School.

The victory sets up a section championship rematch against Christian Brothers of Sacramento -- a three-game winner over Hilmar in the other semifinal -- at 6 p.m. Thursday at UC Davis.

"We wanted the rematch," Duren said. "We were hoping to play Christian Brothers again."

Ripon lost to the Falcons in four games in the 2006 section final and in five games earlier this season.

"We played them twice last year, and now we're going to play them twice this year," Ripon coach Larry Keethe said. "We thought we had them on the ropes in the earlier match this year."

The Indians (34-7) played like a finely-tuned team Tuesday. Freshman setter Kelsey Johnston (27 assists) always seemed to find the right hitter. Many times, that was Duren. Duren also took over setting duties at times, allowing Johnston to hit.

"Kirsten's always been a good setter," Keethe said. "And Kelsey's getting better every day. She's becoming a good little hitter, too."

The Grizzles (25-11) weren't able to get much going offensively because of the Indians' defense. Ashley Robinson had 10 blocks, including three in a row in the third game.

"They're a taller team than we are, and that became a factor late," Golden Sierra coach Justin Cox said. "We knew Kirsten was a pretty good player, too."

And when the Grizzlies got a ball past Robinson and the rest of the Indians' blockers, libero Meredith Perkins was there for one of her match-high 30 digs.

"She's so solid in the back row," Keethe said.

By making the section championship match, the Indians are guaranteed a berth in the CIF Northern California Regional playoffs for the second consecutive season. Should they beat Christian Brothers on Thursday, they'll host their first NorCal match. If they lose, Ripon will go on the road.

But first, the Indians have the match they want: Christian Brothers.

"No other way, it had to be Christian Brothers," Keethe said. "This was one of the girls' big goals."

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