The battle for first place in the Central California Conference really heated up on Monday night when the first and second place varsity volleyball teams met for one final league showdown.
Turlock and Pitman High, which were one game away from each other for most of the year, took it to the court as they vied for the chance to win the CCC title.
Pitman has been dominating the CCC since 2011, after winning their first of five consecutive CCC titles, but on Monday, Turlock proved nothing lasts forever. After losing the first game to the Pride, Turlock shocked Pitman winning the next three and edging out the Pride, 3-1, [9-25, 31-29, 25-18 and 25-21].
“If we will share the title with anybody, Turlock is the team I’d rather share the CCC title with instead of anybody else,” said Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian. “I mean we always want to outright win the title but this is not the end just the beginning for us; we have a lot left to accomplish.”
“I am speechless… I love these girls, they executed the plan and they did it,” said Turlock head coach Amber Castillon, who saw her team snap a 19-game losing streak to Pitman. “This has been our goal all season and it’s great that we accomplished it.”
Turlock accomplished more than they have in over a decade, amassing a 31-9 overall record this year and capping off the season with a 9-1 CCC record, same as Pitman.
“Our goal was to beat Pitman and we did… we reached our expectations,” said Turlock senior Emily Romo, who finished tied with a game-high 20 kills.
Turlock had not beaten Pitman since Oct. 30, 2008, going 0-19 before meeting Pitman one last time this year.
Pitman won the first set outright with a 25-9 victory behind some efficient play as the Pride had been doing all season long. The second set was the toughest of the four as the teams contested each point, exchanging leads until the final few points and tying the game on six different occasions.
“They were nervous at first, but they worked out of it and they knew what needed to be done,” said Castillon. “We had to keep Pitman out of their system that was the plan.”
Turlock eventually pulled away with a 30-29 lead after Julia Handy, Jadyn Tubbs and Romo converted the majority of the loose balls into great plays that resulted in a big two-point win in the second.
It was also the set in which Pitman’s Erika Rodriguez sustained a leg injury that sidelined her for the remainder of the game.
“It’s always tough coming off injuries...it twisted things around but we should have come back,” said Pontes-Christian. “That never should have happened, but Turlock took control, they had momentum.”
Turlock was just the better team for the night, handing Pitman a loss in the third set, behind, again, another solid performance from Romo who managed to get two kills and a block in the final 12 points of the third set.
The fourth game belonged to Turlock as the gymnasium began to get rowdy with loud roars from the student section and crowd.
After multiple timeouts in the closing stages of the fourth, Turlock ended the game with a 4-2 run that ended the Bulldogs' losing streak against Pitman.
“It’s the best feeling to take away the streak they had on us and it’s great that it was on senior night… honestly probably the best feeling I have ever had in my life,” said Romo. “From the first game we worked hard, total team effort; I am so proud of our girls. If we put our hearts to it, we can do anything.”
Tubbs tied with Romo at 20 kills and Handy added on a game-high 48 assists and four blocks.
“This is very similar to winning Nationals; after we won, I thought it was a dream because we finally played the best volleyball we could as a team and I dove on the ground it was awesome,” said Handy. “This win proves we can play against anybody.”
For Pitman, Yisel Perez finished with a team-high 14 kills and Whitney Barnes added on 10 kills. Lauren Solis had a team-high 14 digs and Kiyanna Torres finished with 29 assists.
Turlock and Pitman will next compete in the Division I CIF Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs against a opponent yet to be named at a time yet to be determined, for more information visit cifsjs.org.