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Pitman takes down Gregori in first league match
Pitman volleyball
Madison Eissayou goes for a kill during Pitman’s 3-1 victory over Gregori on Thursday (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

The Pitman High varsity volleyball team started Central California Athletic League play with a bang on Thursday night, defeating Gregori High 3-1 in a dominant team effort. 

The Pride started the match on a high note, coming onto the court and scoring eight unanswered points to kick off the first set.

“I thought we started great, and it was probably one of our best match starts,” Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian said. “That’s been our thing to work on this season, so that was great. The mental preparation was there. I feel like we were just ready to go in a good warm up, so that’s exactly how we want to start every time now.”

Pitman went on to win the first set 25-15 and never let the Jaguars score more than three consecutive points. The second set was much of the same, though this time Gregori couldn't put more than two straight points together at any given time during the set thanks to Pitman’s skillful defense. The Pride won the second set 25-9.

It seemed like Pitman was on their way to a straight sets sweep, but Gregori had other things in mind. The third set was a constant back-and-forth of scoring, and ultimately an 11-point tirade by the Jaguars put the Pride in a hole too deep to climb out of. After falling 25-20 in the third set, Pontes-Christian knew her squad had to pull themselves together to come back in the fourth. 

“In that run, our confidence went down and we were just making mistake after mistake instead of keeping the ball in play and making them make mistakes,” she said. “I think we were down for a little bit, but we had a mental refocus.”

The Pride put on a consistent performance during the fourth set, pulling out to an early nine-point lead before ultimately winning 25-17. 

It was a true team win for the Pride, with Megan Hall leading the way with seven kills on the night. Alex Wright, Mimi Verdone, Taylor Vannest, Julia Magnu each collected six kills apiece, while Reese Carmona had 16 digs and Ella Sniezek had 11. Magnu also had 35 assists on the night and five aces. 

“We have 14 players who honestly can all be on the court, so I put everyone in tonight and everyone did their job when they went in. That's exactly what I want,” Pontes-Christian said. “If an outside hitter is off, then we have another one to throw in there. We were able to do that in every position and it was a team effort.”

The Pride are now 1-0 in CCAL play and 10-5 overall. Next, they play Downey in Modesto at 7 p.m. Tuesday.