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Turlock, Pitman girls compete at Western State
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Turlock and Pitman High took a weekend break from the Central California Conference water polo season to compete in the Girls Western States Tournament, finishing 25th in the A bracket and 6th in the B bracket, respectively.

Both teams took part in five separate matches and finished with a tournament record of 3-2.

“Coming in not knowing about the team you’re playing is rough but I think the girls did really well,” Pitman’s head coach Michaela Solario said.

“It’s a chance to try new things out because the other teams don’t know who our players are or what we do,” Turlock’s head coach Sonja Raynes said of the tournament. “I always tell the kids that in every tournament we have to get better and better each game.”

The Pride began their tournament with two wins on Friday, beating Beyer High 9-3 and Notre Dame High 7-4. Saturday’s start was a little tougher, however, as Pitman fell to Ukiah High 3-16. The next match against West High ended in a 12-5 victory but the Pride lost their final match by the slim score of 4-7 against Harker High.

Lilli Backstrom finished the tournament with a total of 10 goals, Kamarin Waite finished with 7 goals and goalie Alexa Benavides recorded 38 blocks over the two days.

“I wanted the kids to go out there a play to the best of their abilities,” Solario said. “They stepped up and did a very good job.”

Turlock’s time in the pool didn’t start as well as the Pride’s. The Bulldogs dropped their opening matches 12-3 to Oakdale High and 10-3 to Vintage High. But the slow start didn’t haunt Turlock for long, the next day its girls turned things around with three straight wins to end the tournament. Turlock defeated Kimball High 6-4 before dominating Modesto High 11-4 and Oakmont High 11-5.

Savanna Chaffer led the Bulldogs with 16 goals while Paige Avellar came in second with 6 goals. Goalie Abbey Johnson put in her fair share of work as well, finishing the tournament with 36 saves.

“They had a slow start on Friday but for the most part they did what we set out to do,” Raynes said.

“They progressed on Saturday, from the first game through the third,” Turlock assistant coach Lesley Willems said. “It was a really great learning experience.”