In the raised stands of the old girls gym at Turlock High, fans stayed cool by fanning themselves with sheets of paper or whatever they got their hands on. Near the entrance were two gigantic fans blasting air inside to keep everyone from sweating.
Not that a Pitman High-Turlock High volleyball match needs any special circumstances.
In front of hundreds of fans, the Pitman players ruled the place with a 25-17, 25-17, 25-13 win over their crosstown rival on Wednesday night. The Pride maintained control in front of the net with the tall presence of Vicki Rouse and Melinda Gonzales — both are listed at 5-foot-11 — and hitting all the open spots allowed by Turlock.
Pitman still rules the Central California Conference lead with Golden Valley High after improving to 4-1. The Bulldogs, who led for some parts of Wednesday’s match, dropped to 1-4 in the CCC.
“When we came in here,” Pitman coach Kristen Pontes said, “I told the girls, ‘We’re going to focus on our game and making minimal and unforced errors and capitalizing when they’re down.’ That’s what we did.”
Though considered the favorite based on league standings, the Pride didn’t want to take Turlock lightly. Earlier in the season, the Bulldogs topped Buhach Colony High, a team that Pitman fell to.
So to prepare for Turlock and its unique settings, with the gym dimly lit and humid, the Pride practiced without lights on inside their gym. They weren’t taking any chances, especially in such a competitive league.
“We didn’t let it go to our heads,” said Rouse, who had 11 kills to go along with Ashley Solis’ 11 and Sierrah Miller’s 10. “They beat Buhach and we lost to Buhach, so we know they’re able to fight. But we came in fighting and pulled through.”
Solis added, “We knew Turlock would play hard no matter what, so we practiced hard yesterday. No matter what, we were going to come out playing how we play.”
Setter Julia Brewer had 27 assists, and Vanessa Serrato finished with 14 digs.
For Turlock, Sami Alaniz recorded 10 kills and teammate Baylee Lamb collected 12 assists.
“Turlock varsity volleyball shows moments of brilliance,” Turlock coach Amber Castillon said, “and all are working hard to eliminate the strong momentum shifts. Pitman played a great game.”
With the crosstown rival win, the Pride are preparing for next week. They’re hosting defending Golden Valley and traveling to Buhach Colony in Atwater on Monday and Wednesday, respectively. Pitman is on a three-match league win streak.
“Since we already beat Golden Valley,” Solis said, “I think we need to go in there not expecting to win but we know we can beat them and we know what we can do and play to our full potential that whole game. With Buhach, we want revenge on them. We know we have the potential to beat them.”
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail email@example.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.