The Turlock High varsity volleyball team, coming off an upset loss to Buhach Colony last week, was eager to prove that their first league loss was a fluke and there wasn't a better opponent than the area's best volleyball program, Pitman High.
Pitman, which has won back-to-back Division-I Section titles, was off to a 15-1 overall start and a perfect 5-0 beginning in the Central California Conference prior to Tuesday's game.
Unfortunately for the Pride, the night belonged to the home team in Turlock, which came out with a fury in the opening set and took the quick 1-0 lead after the first set. The Bulldogs controlled the pace of the game and ended the night with a 3-1 win, (25-22, 21-25, 25-22 and 25-20).
“Losing to Buhach really changed our plan for this game against Pitman,” said Turlock head coach Amber Lugo. “We just came out and played tough and I told them to just play. I also wanted them to work, but play. Our word for tonight was 'go,' don't stop, just go.”
It became evident early on that the gameplan was executed nearly flawlessly and the Pride just didn't look like their normal selves.
“What happened tonight, in this game, is we got outplayed,” said Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian. “There were multiple players that were off on our team and they showed it and they never came back and it just kept with us all match.”
Pitman saw a few bright moments during the match, but it was limited when compared to the night that Turlock had.
Pitman's only victory came in the second set after winning, 25-21, to tie the match at 1-1 after two sets played.
Determined and backed by two future Division-I volleyball players in Julia Handy and Jadyn Tubbs, the Bulldogs set out on a mission to dethrone Pitman, at least for the night, and they managed to keep their composure behind an extremely rowdy crowd for Turlock.
Pitman scored the first point of the third set but went on to fall to Turlock by three points. This was only the second time this season that Pitman trailed.
In the fourth set, Turlock just sucked out most of the life from Pitman after going up early 9-1, to take the largest lead of any set played.
Turlock went on to win the fourth and final set by five points as the student section cheered and swarmed the court to congratulate their team.
The Pride had only lost six sets in 16 matches prior to Tuesday's 3-1 loss. This loss for Pitman is also only their second loss in the Central California Conference over the last 61 league games played.
The last time Pitman lost multiple league games was in 2011, when they went 13-2. From 2012-2014, Pitman was a perfect 15-0 in three straight seasons, until last season when the Bulldogs defeated the Pride in the 2015 regular season finale to split the CCC title at 9-1 apiece.
Pitman's only two league losses since 2012 are to Turlock.
“It keeps all of our dreams alive,” said Lugo about the team's win over Pitman. “We can't overlook or overthink anyone for the rest of the year.”
Both sides are now even at the top of the CCC standings with a 5-1 record.
“As I told the girls. We are using this as motivation to get better tomorrow,” Pontes-Christian added.
Tubbs finished with a game-high 18 digs to go with her 14 kills. Sister Jazmyn added a team-high 18 kills. Brett Hanson added 15 digs and Handy finished with nine digs and a game-high 49 assists as well as four blocks.
For Pitman, Whitney Barnes was one of the few sparks after the junior tallied a game-high 27 kills to go with her 17 digs. Marlowe Embry added 15 digs while Kiyanna Torres finished with 27 assists and a pair of blocks. Erika Rodrigues added a pair of blocks.