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After playoff loss, Pitman facing bright future
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It probably wasn’t a pleasant ride back home for the Pitman High volleyball players and coaches, who ended their season after facing powerful St. Mary’s High in Stockton in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament on Thursday night. But the Pride had at least one happy thought: They gave the Rams a scare.Though they lost 25-21, 21-25, 25-16, 25-16, the No. 10 Pride handed No. 2 St. Mary’s its first losing set since Oct. 2.This was the same Rams team that breezed to another Tri-City Athletic League title with an undefeated season. This was the same Rams team that has gone to the Section title match for the past four seasons, and now just one win away from a fifth straight appearance. This was the same Rams team that boasts 17 available players, seven more than Thursday’s opponent.Knowing all this, Pitman coach Kristen Pontes believes her program has a promising future — though the Pride lose some key starters, like senior Annabel Perez and Fresno State-bound outside hitter Maci Murdock.“We battled the entire match,” Pontes said. “The girls didn’t give up.”Junior Vickie Rouse led with nine kills and four blocks, Perez had 10 digs and 21 assists and Murdock finished up her Pitman career with nine kills, four blocks and two aces. Those numbers helped give the Rams (27-8 overall) their toughest match in awhile.For the Pride (20-8), it was an unkind end to a historic season. On Tuesday, Pitman won its first-ever volleyball postseason match since the school opened in 2003. More than that, the school is already looking ahead to future years.Besides having a young varsity group take second in the Central California Conference this season, Pitman’s junior varsity and freshmen teams placed first and second in their respective leagues. Pontes is also helping start a new local travel ball team called Turlock Crush that will start practicing in December, before playing in tournaments from January until the beginning of next summer.“That’s the key to having a successful program,” Pontes said about playing during the offseason.To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.