Pitman High’s blistering start to the 2023 volleyball season continued on Tuesday with a 25-10, 25-14, 25-12 non-league victory over Merced.
The Pride improve to 13-1 as they prepare to host two-time defending Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 champion Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
The Trojans defeated Pitman in the semifinal round of last year’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 playoffs. It was their sixth meeting over the past decade, with each team winning three times. However, all of Pitman’s victories came in the playoffs, while two of the Knights’ wins were in midseason tournaments.
“They’re going to be quick-tempo and they’re going to be consistent, so we’ve just got to play our game and make them make the errors,” said Pitman coach Kristen Pontes-Christian. “It’ll be a good test.”
According to MaxPreps.com, Pitman is ranked third in the Sac-Joaquin Section, behind only St. Mary’s and Central Catholic, while Oak Ridge is ranked No. 14.
Though the Pride will enter Thursday’s game as the favorite, they feel like they have something to prove.
“Most of us our returners from last year,” said senior setter Payton Rowell, who had a team-high 28 assists and nine digs against the Bears. “I feel like that revenge factor is coming from all of us.”
Sophomore Maryn Hall hopes the Pitman student body will turn out in full force for Thursday’s matchup.
“Oh, I’m so excited for Oak Ridge,” said Hall, who led the team with eight kills against Merced. “Hopefully, it’ll be packed Thursday night. And I think the band is coming. The support really helps us with our energy.”
Denair 20, Riverbank 0, at Riverbank — The Denair High Coyotes ran all over the Riverbank Bruins on Friday night, rushing for three touchdowns to grab their first win of the 2023 season.
Senior quarterback Landen Borges kicked things off with a scramble into the end zone in the opening quarter. Junior wideout Angel Rosas followed it up in the second quarter with a run of his own. Junior running back Jesse Ruelas capped things off with a third quarter touchdown.
The game not only broke the Coyotes into the win column, but it marked their first shutout victory since Sept. 2 of last year, a 45-0 win that also came against the Bruins.
— Christopher Correa contributed to this report.