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Pride now 6-1 in last seven crosstown meetings
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Turlock High’s Kelli Knapp spikes the ball over Pitman High blockers. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

The first two sets between the Pitman High and Turlock High volleyball teams seemed uncharacteristic, as one rival was more dominant than the other. But it all changed in the third game, when rallies from both sides got the crowd of hundreds more involved in the crosstown rivalry meeting.

And that’s how the Pride liked it.

It explains why after sweeping the Bulldogs in three sets (25-16, 25-15, 25-17), the Pitman players screamed and yelled in excitement on Monday night.

The Pride (9-1) will now host Golden Valley High (7-3) in an important Central California Conference showdown. The match is set for 6 p.m. today.

As always, the win over Turlock was more than a win for the Pride.

“Whenever they play us, they play their hardest and they go all out,” said Pitman outside hitter and Fresno State-bound senior Maci Murdock, who wrapped up her night with five kills and two blocks. “They want to win and I see it. They proved that to us. They tried their hardest. It was a good game the last game, but we pulled it together and won.”

The Pride continued their control over the Bulldogs, now having won six of the last seven rivalry meetings.

The Bulldogs dropped to 1-9 in the CCC, as the Miranda Thomas (17 assists, four digs), Kelli Knapp (six kills, one block) and Sami Alaniz (two aces) were the team leaders.

The Pride jumped out to 7-0 and 8-0 leads in the first and second sets. The third set saw Pitman hold a 4-1 advantage before the Bulldogs issued rally after rally after rally, taking the lead and tying the game on a handful of occasions.

But the Pride held it together and won, which resulted in the players on the court offering an enthusiastic celebration with hand-slapping and a lot of yelling. Other reasons to rejoice: Sierrah Miller collected 12 digs, Annabel Perez had four aces and 10 assists and Ashley Solis finished with five kills, to help support another solid night from Murdock.

“The best thing was we didn’t let them get ahead of us,” Pitman coach Kristen Pontes said. “We always kept ahead. Whether it was one or two points or five points, we were always ahead.”

With the third round of season starting today, the Pride will look to boost their Sac-Joaquin Section Division I power rating. It was announced earlier Tuesday that they’re seeded ninth, meaning they’re one spot away from being one of the top eight teams to host an opening round playoff match.

Pitman is looking to increase its power rating in the last five matches.

“I definitely feel good about the No. 9 position, but I definitely want to go up,” Pontes said. “I want to be top eight and I want to host. Last year, we had to drive and travel and it’s always a disadvantage. I want the girls to be able to play in our own gym for playoffs, because I think we can do well.”

To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.