While Pitman High varsity volleyball is fielding a young team this year, veteran coach Kristen Pontes-Christian is optimistic that success will come.
Last year, despite an odd start to league, the Pride came back to win nine straight games in the Central California Athletic League to capture the inaugural title. This year, they may be eyeing it again, but the inexperience could delay the process.
“We had a tougher journey to get to the point we did, which was the CCAL title, and I think that was pretty special, especially in the first year of the CCAL so that was fun,” said Pontes-Christian.
This year, Pitman has to deal with the loss of five graduating seniors — four who have moved on to play collegiately. Pontes-Christian knows it will be difficult to fill those voids.
Only three seniors and three juniors make up the total of 14 players on this year’s roster.
Kayla Battles, Brionna Sims and Kendra Delgado are the only seniors.
“We are young. Lot of things we are working on and need to improve on, but I am staying optimistic, because I know if they work hard, they can get where we need to get,” said Pontes-Christian. “But it is going to take work. We are small this year and we don’t have the height that we have seen in the past, our tallest player is 5-foot-10 and a lot of 5-foot-7 hitters or so and that has not been the case for at least six years. Height is not everything; it is all about athleticism and quickness, how quick they can retain the information and if they can play together, team chemistry.”
Pontes-Christian has led the Pride to multiple league titles since 2012. A total of six in the past seven seasons to be exact.
The Pride also won the Sac-Joaquin Section Division-I title three years straight from 2014-2016.
From 2012-2018 Pitman has accumulated a league record of 82-7.
Pontes-Christian is looking to continue the success, but knows that it will take time with this group.
“I am hoping that every player learns and grows mentally since there are so many different aspects at this level and we are working. It might be difficult in the beginning, but hopefully at the end, this young squad will be looking ahead for the future,” said Pontes-Christian.
Pontes-Christian said that communication is something they need to continue to work on with this group in particular, especially if they wish to compete in the CCAL once more.
“They are very quiet, so we are really working on the vocal aspect of the game,” Pontes-Christian added.
The first game for Pitman will be on the road at Clovis East at 5 p.m. Aug. 23.