The Central California Conference volleyball season is two-thirds of the way through and Pitman High is standing at the top of the heap. The Pride (10-0 CCC) kept the ball rolling on their undefeated league campaign Thursday night, beating the Turlock Bulldogs in the second cross-town match of the year 3-0 (25-12, 25-14, and 25-12).
“Pitman is undefeated for a reason,” Turlock’s head coach Amber Castillon said. “They can fire from anywhere and they’re very consistent.”
The Pride’s solid play in the backcourt and combination of size and strength at the net was an overwhelming obstacle for Turlock from the onset of the match. The tandem of Melinda Gonzalez and Lindsey Vander Weide stifled Bulldog hitters through the three sets, accounting for four blocks apiece as Cami Larsen patrolled the rear with seven digs.
Vander Weide was also a key component on offense, recording 12 kills alongside Sierrah Miller who finished the night with 13 kills. Maddy Halteman also provided significant contributions with three aces and 24 assists.
“The girls played really well,” Pitman’s head coach Kristen Pontes said. “We kept our unforced errors down and every player contributed.”
“There’s not an area where they’re weak; they’re strong everywhere,” Castillon said.
Thursday marked the fourth straight loss for the 6th place Bulldogs. Turlock was able to rally with Pitman at the beginning of each set but as time wore on the Pride’s focus propelled them wide margins of victory. Turlock’s Victoria Larsen led her team in three statistical categories with one ace, four digs, and seven kills while Sarah Day lent a hand with one block and four kills of her own.
“We’re not at a point right now where we can beat Pitman,” Castillon said. “Our goals are to maintain our love for the sport, keep playing hard, and try to have some fun as we move on with the season.”
With one more round of CCC competition remaining, Pitman is within reach of improving on last season’s landmark success and repeating as champions.
“I definitely think we have the confidence we need to go into the third round but I also think we’re humble enough to know that every team is going to gun for us,” Pontes said. “Fortunately for me, I don’t have to motivate or try to keep this group focused much because they are very competitive. They want to win, they want to be on top —they want that CCC championship.”
Pitman gets the opportunity to flex its competitive muscle before Tuesday’s match against Merced in today’s Healdsburg Tournament. The Pride will be one of 10 teams in the tournament that boasts some of the best teams from the Sonoma area.
“This is an opportunity for team bonding, to get out of the area, and see new teams,” Pontes said. “We’re trying to gear for playoffs and we realize we’re going to see teams we don’t know anything about, so this is a nice segue for that.”
As for Turlock, Tuesday is an opportunity for its girls to notch their second league win against a Buhach Colony High team that they have already beaten.
“We need to beat them again,” Castillon said.