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Bulldogs sweep Pride to remain unbeaten in CCAL
Turlock volley
Turlock High’s Ava Chiesa (6) and Katie Parker (12) get up in the air for a block during Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Pitman High (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

The highly anticipated crosstown matchup between Turlock and Pitman High varsity volleyball took place from the Pride’s gym on Wednesday night, closing out the first half of Central California Athletic League play, while also setting up an even more intriguing second half. 

When all was said and done, the Bulldogs managed to come away with a 3-0 straight sets sweep, the first since 2017.

“I think the first set was our game to lose and we lost ourselves outright, so I think after that we lost all momentum and all fight,” said Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian.

Pitman volley
Turlock High’s Ava Chiesa (6) goes up for a kill against Pitman’s Alex Wright (5) and Brionna Sims (4) during Wednesday’s 3-0 win from the Pride’s gym (CANDY PADILLA/The Journal).

“It’s a crazy environment and sometimes it takes a little time to settle down and get into the groove of the game,” said Turlock head coach Amber Lugo. “It took them a little while, but then they were able to do their thing.” 

Their thing was sweeping, as they had swept through three of four league opponents prior to Wednesday’s game, dropping just a single set to Gregori. 

Following the win, they have now defeated four of five in straight sets. 

The last time that Turlock beat Pitman in straight sets was on Oct. 3, 2017. 

“Our girls got the win in front of the Dog Pound that traveled well and they are happy with the outcome and now they get ready for the second half of CCAL. So now it is one match at a time,” said Lugo. 

Following Wednesday’s game, Pitman’s current overall record is 12-11 and 3-2 in the CCAL. 

Turlock is 20-14 and 5-0 in CCAL play so far. 

“Turlock played comfortably and confident all night and I think we just had our moments of insecurities on the court and we showed our weaknesses and it came down to not getting it done,” said Pontes-Christian. “We have had crazy things happen in the past in league. We already have two losses in league…but the only thing we can do is work tomorrow at practice in consistency and try and stay positive.” 

The Pride are in third place in the CCAL as they head into the second half of league play while the ‘Dogs are in first. Gregori is in second. 

On Wednesday, Pitman was able to fend off Turlock in the opening set with the game leaning in the Pride’s favor. 

Their rallies were solid and they managed to match Turlock point for point, leading for most of the set until the game score read 24-22. 

From that point, an injury timeout ensued, and Turlock was able to rally 4-0 to win the first set, 26-24. 

“It is one of those things where as a coach I was pulling my hair out, but I am just happy they were able to work it out and keep it in the positive. It is exciting and loud as well in these games,” said Lugo. 

In the second set, Turlock handled Pitman with ease, making it the most lopsided set of the night at 25-11. 

Pitman fought back in the third, but Turlock’s pace and consistency proved to be too much to handle as they went on a 6-3 run to end it 25-20. 

“We talked about being mentally ready and in all aspects as well. We were the underdogs coming into this game, since they were undefeated and they have more seniors and juniors,” said Pontes-Christian. “But we just weren’t ready and everyone on the court didn’t do their job and we just couldn’t pull it out. Against a team like that we have to be ready to play and play hard on the court.” 

Turlock’s Jazmyn Tubbs finished with a team-high 14 kills and added three aces. Mary Padilla had 11 kills and 14 digs. Ava Chiesa added 16 digs. Kaylee Mulhearn finished with 18 assists while Ellie Crowell finished with a team-high 20 assists. 

Turlock’s next game will be at Gregori High at 6 p.m. Monday. 

The next CCAL game for Pitman will be a home contest against Modesto High at 6 p.m. Monday.