Pitman High has been a volleyball power house for the past few years with three consecutive Central California Conference championships and back-to-back undefeated seasons in league. But last year the Pride were dealt a devastating blow in the first round of playoffs when Bella Vista High beat them at home in straight sets.
On Tuesday, in the first round of the 2013 Division I SJS playoffs against Enochs High, Pitman made sure history didn’t repeat itself.
Led by the likes of Lindsey Vander Weide, Melinda Gonzalez, and Maddy Halteman, the Pride sent the Eagles home in straight sets (25-12, 25-20, 25-15).
“It’s good, especially after last season. We wanted it, we needed it,” Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes said of the playoff victory.
Pitman claimed its first victory with relative ease, but a late-set surge from Enochs carried over into the second set and forced the Pride to play from behind. Wide shots, miscommunication on defense, and avoidable mistakes redirected the match’s momentum away from Pitman and pushed it towards the Eagles.
“That’s been our biggest struggle this season, we win the first game and we have all that excitement, and then the second game we kind of just let down,” Pontes said.
Instead of falling flat, however, the Pride climbed back from two six-point deficits, fought through four late-match ties, and scored five unanswered points for their second-set win.
“They picked it up, we brought it back,” Gonzalez said.
Enochs continued to play Pitman tough and stayed within striking distance for much of the third set, but the outside hitting and relentless play at the net proved to be too much to overcome.
“This is a big match, even though we’ve played Enochs before, but it was a big match because we just want to get to the second round and not repeat what happened last year,” Pontes said.
As has been the case all season, Vander Weide led the match with 11 kills and six digs. Stephanie Simmons notched six kills, Gonzalez finished with six blocks, and Halteman ended the night with 28 assists.
“All of us, we’ve all been working really hard outside. Lindsey of course is one of the main (people) we go to, so we all look to her as one of our go to hitters and then the rest of us try to follow and put it down,” Gonzalez said.
Pitman must now prepare for round two of the post-season on Thursday where it will host Oak Ridge High.
“We’re just going to keep working on what we can control on our side,” Pontes said. “Keep working on plays, running a quicker offense, really moving on defense, reading the hitter. All those little things that we’ve kind of been able to bypass in league, because we’ve kind of coasted, so we’re going to really focus on those things because tough teams are going to make us play perfect.”
“We just keep looking at every team as a lot better than us, so we’re prepared to fight for the win and play as hard as we can,” Gonzalez said.