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Falcons flummoxed by Knights

Forest Lake denied trip to section final by two-time defending champ Ripon Christian
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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LAKE OF THE PINES — So much for catching Ripon Christian in a rebuilding year. The Forest Lake Christian volleyball team could not keep pace with the visitors Tuesday night in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division V semifinals. Ripon Christian swept the Falcons on their way to a third straight section title match. Forest Lake had a Cindarella run of its own to make the semis, but the upstart Knights were too tall, too athletic and too skilled for the Falcons who ended their season with a 16-10 overall record. “We knew they were going to be tough,” Forest Lake coach Travis Smith said. “They brought their A-game and we brought our B-game tonight. We made a lot of mistakes that we haven’t made in a long time. But we never expected to get this far.” Neither did the Knights. Ripon Christian Coach Tiger Shelton told his team before the season that it would be a rebuilding year. After all, the Knights returned just two players from last year’s section championship team. But star junior Michelle Terpstra made sure Ripon would get a shot at its third straight section crown. “I told them it was a rebuilding year and I think that pissed them off,” Shelton said. “Michelle’s done an incredible job. I really need to give her props tonight.” Forest Lake’s five seniors didn’t go down without a fight in their final match together. Game 1 was tight the whole way before Ripon put together a late rally behind the serving of Britney Betlansky to win 25-18. The Falcons built an 8-4 lead in Game 2 after an ace by Morghan Pomeroy. The Knights fought back and eventually pulled away for a 25-20 win. Ripon closed it out with a 25-17 victory in the third. Senior Caitlin Hanson led Forest Lake with 10 kills. Jen Menary passed out 16 assists and Leslie Johnston added five kills. Pomeroy — the Falcons’ leading hitter on the season —finished with three kills to go with three blocks and two aces. “We couldn’t get our offense going and it was just a matter of passing,” said Smith, who guided Forest Lake to its only section title in volleyball in 1998. Menary, a three-year starter, was tearful after the loss, but maintained her cheery demeanor. “Ending on a loss really isn’t a negative for us,” Menary said. “We’re such a family as a team. We love each other and it’s a blessing to play on this team. I think (Ripon) brought more intensity tonight. It’s awesome playing a team like that. They’ve got a lot going for them. “We told them after the match that we hope they win the section title.” Ripon Christian, which entered the playoffs as the No. 10 seed, will go after its 13th section volleyball title on Thursday, facing No. 1 Bradshaw Christian at UC Davis. “We didn’t expect to make the playoffs,” Shelton said. “But these kids just keep stepping it up.”