The first two sets were a breeze.
As for the third set? The Pitman High volleyball players knew they had to stay cool against a Kennedy High team that wanted to capture just one set before a long drive back to Sacramento.
The setback, however, was no big deal for the No. 6 Pride, who overcame two late deficits for the 25-8, 25-8, 25-23 win at the Pitman High gym on Tuesday night in the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Tournament.
In the third set, the Pride forfeited a 9-2 advantage and watched Kennedy build leads of 19-18 and 22-21. Pitman came back each time, as the Pride forced the opponent to hit the ball out of bounds on game-point.
“Sometimes the girls can get a little comfortable,” Pitman coach Kristen Pontes said, “but they came back and that’s all that matters.”
Pitman, the Central California Conference co-champion, moves past the opening round for the second consecutive year. And for the second consecutive year, the Pride will have to face St. Mary’s High of Stockton, which eliminated Pitman last season before capturing the Section title.
The two teams meet again on Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. Mary’s in Stockton.
“They have a lot of weapons at St. Mary’s,” Pontes said, “so we’re going to have to definitely play our A-game.”
The Pride have weapons, too, and they used them Tuesday night. Vicki Rouse, the senior outside hitter/blocker, finished with eight kills, three blocks and three aces. Ashley Solis had nine kills, Julia Brewer collected 21 assists and Courtney Phelps recorded nine digs.
Pitman came out on fire in the first two sets, holding the Cougars, the No. 11 seed, to single-digit scoring. Kennedy wasn’t a threat until the third game, but the Pride were able to handle the late surges.
“We got a little too cocky, I think,” Rouse said, “so we didn’t play to our full potential, but we did what we could.”
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