Six consecutive league titles isn’t an easy accomplishment. Pitman varsity volleyball made it look somewhat simple when they toppled the Turlock Bulldogs at home in their regular season finale to clinch the Central California Conference after a 3-1 final.
“The girls felt the pressure of this match, it was a big one,” said Pitman head coach Kristen Pontes-Christian. “We never had been in this position where it came down to literally the last game. Normally we would tie, but a lot was on the line; they performed so well.”
“It was a must win to clinch the CCC — that didn’t happen, but our season's not over,” said Turlock head coach Amber Lugo.
Coming into the game, both sides were even at 10-1 in the CCC and a win for either side would give the champion the outright title.
Turlock defeated the Pride at home back on Oct. 4 in a 3-1 decision while Pitman was eager to prove that their only league loss did not define this year’s team.
It all came down to Thursday’s crosstown showdown and after the first set, things could not have looked better for the Bulldogs of Turlock.
The fluidity of the movement around the court was nearly flawless for Turlock in the opening set as they were anchored by junior star Julia Handy, who was a standout in the 25-20 defeat over the Pride in the first set.
“Game one that was us, the other games they were just so wound up,” said Lugo.
Pitman came out and performed like they are capable of doing in the second set.
Following two timeouts from Turlock and a 15-5 lead, Pitman went on to win the second set in a 25-13 final.
“We didn’t have the best start, we made a lot of mistakes in the first set and changed it up a bit and started covering Julia’s dunks because we were getting killed by that, literally,” said Pontes-Christina. “After that we pulled Kiyanna off the net and covered the line, so things they did well, they didn’t so after.”
The change of plans for Pitman worked to their advantage after they controlled the tempo and momentum of the game for the remaining two sets.
Pitman won the third and fourth sets in a 25-18 decision as the team celebrated with the student section in the center of the court for the team's outright CCC title.
“Everybody contributed on the team, I just feel like we are such a powerhouse in comparison and we finally showed them tonight, because we didn’t show them in the first game,” said Pontes-Christian. “Last year it felt good to win but there’s nothing like being the ones on top and we are the ones on top.”
Pitman finishes the year with an 11-1 league record while Turlock takes second at 10-2.
“Turlock has great players, I give it to them, but I just feel like we have it all and we showed it tonight, we literally played and that was it,” Pontes-Christian added.
Torres tallied 33 assists for the Pride while Yisel Perez added 12 kills. Whitney Barnes finished with 17 digs. Marlowe Embry added 25 digs and Fallon Evans tallied 16 digs.
Turlock’s Handy added 32 assists, two kills, an ace and 11 digs. Jadyn Tubbs added 14 kills and eight digs.
Both Turlock and Pitman advance into the Division I Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, which begin against opponents yet to be determined at 6 p.m. Tuesday.