Tuesday’s preseason finale was a grudge match for the Division I volleyball state runner-ups Pitman High, as they hosted the always competitive Clovis East at home.
The intensity of Pitman was matched by Clovis East for majority of the game, and it was most recognizable when the first game ended at 28-26 after a grueling battle.
After a tough fight, Pitman won the fifth game to notch their 10th victory of the season in only 11 games at 3-2, (28-26, 17-25, 25-20, 18-25 and 15-10).
“I feel like this helps prepare us more. It was good to go five games. The girls had to push and stay mentally tough,” said Pitman assistant head coach Hailee Hernandez. “I just think it’s a really great game to have just before league, so I am excited with the outcome.”
“It’s great to get a win like this. It really pumps us up as we get ready for league because we know the CCC is tougher this year than prior years, so we're really excited,” added Pitman senior and captain Lauren Solis.
Solis’ contribution in Tuesday’s home winner was apparent as the senior was active on the court, diving and rolling on the ground, saving multiple kill attempts from Clovis East.
Solis ended the contest with a game-high 14 digs.
“There were times when we struggled, but Kiyanna Torres[ and I] kept the team together and composed and kept the energy up,” Solis said.
After winning the first game, the Pride dropped the second game only to win the third then lose in the fourth to set up the fifth contest.
“We knew that we had to get better passing and had to pull our setter because she was too tight and we had to run a faster offense because we couldn’t run high balls, wasn’t going to work against this team,” Hernandez said. “We made the adjustments that we needed to make in order to win.”
Torres notched a team-high 40 assists while sophomore Whitney Barnes rounded up a team-high 15 kills.
Katie Willet added four blocks and Kaylin Randhawa had three behind a defense that was taller than Clovis East but essentially wanted it more towards the end.
“We all stayed calm and told ourselves that we needed to stay together and be positive as a team and not play as individuals and that really stuck with us,” Solis said about being tied 2-2 after four games.
With the contest tied, the Pride came out in the fifth game with a different mindset.
The Pride immediately took off with a 3-0 start then after taking a three-point lead in the fifth game at 11-8, Clovis called for a timeout, which resulted in Pitman coming out of the break with a 4-2 rally to win it.
“Everyone expects great things from us since we were State runner ups, but we're just being humble about it all since we know we might lose games,” Solis added. “But we just have to work hard every game. We need to talk more and keep our energy up.”
Pitman’s first Central California Conference contest will be at home against Atwater as they take on the Falcons at 6 p.m. next Wednesday.