Three hard fought sets and no surprises took place Tuesday night at Pitman High School as the Pride volleyball team defeated the Enochs Eagles in the first round of playoffs at home.
“We are focusing on one round at a time,” said Kristen Pontes-Christian, Pitman head coach. “Tonight was more about getting the nerves out, focusing on cutting down our unforced errors, staying consistent and playing smart volleyball.”
Pitman (26-6) won the first set by 10 points in what seemed to be a close game. They started off strong and Enochs put up a good fight, but that’s what playoffs are all about.
The opening set foreshadowed the next two games to follow as Pitman then beat the Eagles, 25-8 and 25-23.
“Our second game was by far our best set of the match and I think our unforced errors were probably at a minimum three or less,” said Pontes-Christian. “That’s exactly what we need to do for every team that we play.”
Pitman had complete control of the second set, going on a 9-0 run in the middle of the set and put on a display of gritty defense. The Eagles fought hard but could not kill momentum for the Pride and entered the third set with their backs against the wall.
The close third game of the match brought out the glory of a playoff atmosphere as the Eagles inched closer and closer to a game three upset and the Pride’s victory came down to the wire.
A huge dig from Lauren Solis (who finished with 8 digs in the match) and a hard spike from Whitney Barnes (who finished with 6 kills in the match) caused Enochs to shank the ball and put Pitman up for the final time after a tie score of 23-23.
Pontes-Christian was impressed with the play of Mady Coughran, who stepped up after the Pride's usual setter, Kiyanna Torres, was out for her last day of injury with a concussion.
“Mady has not set a full match all season and she stepped up huge tonight,” she said.
“I was crazy nervous, I’m still shaking now,” Coughran said. “It was a playoff game, and I've set in practice but never in a game situation like this.”
Coughran’s strategy? Simple.
“I was trying to not think about it and not worry about it,” she said. “Sometimes you just gotta play to play and that’s how everything works out the best.”
Pitman will next host Lincoln of Stockton at 7 p.m. Thursday.