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Pitman has impressive week heading into CCAL play
Pitman volleyball
The Pitman High volleyball team captured the Central California Classic at Merced's Golden Valley High School this past weekend, posting a 6-0 record, while dropping only one game (Photo courtesy of Monica Reich).

Pitman High’s volleyball team rolled to a non-league victory in Merced on Sept. 6, followed by a 6-0 championship run at the prestigious Central California Classic over the weekend, then toppled previously unbeaten Sierra on Monday to cap an impressive seven-day stretch of dominance.

After a 3-0 sweep in Merced — 25-13, 25-18, 25-12 — the Pride returned to Merced for the CCC, hosted by Golden Valley High School. Pitman beat Pacheco (Los Banos), Ripon Christian, Los Banos, El Capitan (Merced) and Stockdale (Bakersfield) — all by 2-0 scores — to set up a rematch with RC for the championship. 

Pitman cruised to a 25-17 victory in the first game, but head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian knew things wouldn’t remain so easy.

“I knew they were going to come out looking for redemption,” said the Pride coach, who welcomed her dad, assistant coach Dave Pontes, back to the bench after a two-year hiatus. “I told the girls that they were going to come back ready to go. They definitely did.”

The Knights took the second game 25-18, setting up a rubber match in the best-of-three final.

“That second set was the best I’ve seen Ripon Christian play,” said Pontes-Christian. “And they came out on fire in the third, too. It was definitely back and forth.”

But Pitman hung on 15-13 to earn the championship trophy.

“They have a great team,” said Pontes-Christian, who guided Pitman to three consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championships from 2014-2016 “It was fun to play them again.”

Junior right-side Ella Sniezek was named the tournament’s MVP, while junior setter Payton Rowell and senior middle blocker Lauren Hamilton were named to the all-tourney team.

On Monday, Sierra (10-0) came to Turlock for a non-league match and Pitman had little trouble handing the Timberwolves their first loss, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22.

In that game, Hamilton and Mary Hall had nine kills apiece (Hall also had eight digs), while Sniezek totaled eight kills, eight digs and three ace serves. Rowell had 30 kills and 15 digs, and Reese Carmona had 15 digs and four aces.

The Pride are a young team, with only three seniors on the roster.

“I have two freshmen outside (Hall and Aila Reich) hitters and one sophomore (Mia Ngo),” said Pontes-Christian, now in her 16th season as head coach. “This is the first time I’ve never had an upperclassman at outside hitter. But they’re doing very well.”

The Pride will open Central California Athletic League play today when they travel to Modesto to take on Gregori.