Pitman High’s volleyball team squandered a two-set lead, falling 17-25, 25-27, 25-19, 25-20, 15-10 in a five-set thriller against two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section champion Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills).
The loss is just the second of the season for the Pride, who now stand at 13-2 heading into this weekend’s Golden Valley (Merced) tournament. Pitman’s other loss this season came to Marin Catholic (Kentfield), the No. 16 team in the state according to MaxPreps.com.
The Trojans, who ended the Pride’s season in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 semifinals last year, improve to 3-1. Oak Ridge’s three prior matches this season were against St. Francis (D-1), Vacaville (D-2) and Christian Brothers (D-3) — all section finalists in 2022.
Thursday’s showdown was not only a rematch of last year’s section semifinal, it was a meeting of the teams that have won six of the last eight section banners.
That’s why both coaches knew, win or lose, they were going to learn a lot about their respective teams.
“Guts,” said Oak Ridge coach Trevin Morgan, when asked what he learned about his club. “We’re young, we graduated a lot of seniors and have a lot of younger kids coming up this year. So, it’s learning what our identity is right now.”
While Pitman coach Kristen Pontes-Christian would’ve preferred the victory, she was glad that her team was forced into a fifth set for the first time this year.
“This is good for us,” said Pontes-Christian. “We need to see this type of competition.”
The Pride jumped out in front thanks to an 8-0 run to close the first set, then outlasted the Trojans in a marathon second set. After that, Pitman seemed to lose some of its zip.
“We exerted a lot of energy in the first and second set, and I think we just got kind of tired in the third,” said Pontes-Christian. “And there were things that we were doing great in the first two that we stopped doing in the third. It’s a good wake-up call and we’re going to continue working on all those things.”
Pitman’s players entered the match craving revenge against the Trojans for stopping their section run last year.
“I really wanted to win this,” said senior right-side Ella Sniezek. “But I think we can learn from this.”
Senior setter Payton Rowell agreed.
“Just seeing this type of competition is going to prepare us to go on further this year,” Rowell said. “I believe we’ll see them again in the playoffs. I hope we do.”