Pitman High found itself in unfamiliar territory Tuesday night when it hosted Bella Vista High in the first round of the Division I SJS Playoffs. The two time Central California Conference champions, who are accustomed to dominating their opponents on the court, met their match in the Broncos. Bella Vista turned the tables and earned a straight set victory (20-25, 20-25, and 22-25) over the Pride.
“Of course we’re disappointed, but we had a great season,” Pitman’s head coach Kristen Pontes said. “We’re proud of what we accomplished even though we didn’t go as far as we anticipated.”
Pitman was out of its comfort zone from the onset of the match. Bella Vista jumped out to early leads in all three sets, leaning on a defense that refused to quit and fast paced offensive attack that kept the Pride off balance and out of position. Although playing from behind hasn’t been something Pitman has had to do this season, the girls in green and black were able to close the gaps and put themselves in position to take the lead throughout the night. Still, the Broncos were able to stay a few steps ahead of the Pride and squeeze out the tight wins.
“They picked up everything,” Pontes said. “We couldn’t get a break. We thought we’d get a kill and all of sudden someone would come out of nowhere.”
Lindsey Vander Weide and Sierrah Miller did their jobs as Pitman’s muscle but Bella Vista’s Sara Hibbs and Audrey Lohmeyer were able to neutralize them, with Hibbs battling Vander Weide at the net and Lohmeyer picking up everything that crossed her path.
“It was really fun because we normally don’t see that kind of competitiveness,” Miller said.
Pitman remained competitive in the third set, playing better than it had in the previous two, but in the end Bella Vista’s consistent pressure was too much to overcome.
The loss caps an undefeated CCC season for the Pride. Pitman will graduate only three seniors at the conclusion of the year, creating high hopes for next season’s team.
“We accomplished a lot,” Miller said. “We made history and did the best we could; our coaches are amazing.”
“I’m glad the girls battled when they could have easily given up,” Pontes said. “Now we’re looking forward to next year.”