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Undefeated Pride eying section finals
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Pitman High had a monster of a volleyball season this year, decisively defeating every Central California Conference team that crossed its path. Under the tutelage of head coach Kristen Pontes, the Pride won their second straight CCC title on Tuesday, freeing themselves from the confines of their league as they head into the Division I San Joaquin Section Playoff Tournament.

“Knowing the strength of our league, to win a CCC championship season is huge, and to do it at all three levels is pretty amazing. I knew there was a lot of talent coming back from last season and I knew going undefeated was a possibility but we just took it practice to practice, game to game,” Pontes said. “Our first goal was to win CCC, and going undefeated was even better, but our other goal was that none of the teams would take us to five games and we accomplished that as well.”

Pitman must now carry its CCC success over into Tuesday’s first round matchup against either Bella Vista or Bethel High at home. Senior captains Sierrah Miller and Kelsi Derr will have to continue their hard work on defense from the back court as the sophomore tandem of setter Madie Halteman and kill master Lindsey Vander Weide continue their consistent and powerful attack at the net. Vander Weide’s intimidating presence as both blocker and middle hitter will be instrumental in Pitman’s post-season success as Pontes looks to continue executing a quick offense and an aggressive defense.

 “With playoffs it gets interesting because you don’t know a lot about the teams that you’re facing, so instead of focusing on them we have to focus on ourselves,” Pontes said. “I know all of them want to go far.”

This year’s playoff brackets have been organized a little differently from years past. Instead of assigning tournament seeds based on power rankings, the bracket slots will be determined entirely on league finishes.

“We want to host two playoff matches this year and I’m hoping this season’s finish will allow us to do that,” Pontes said.  “We would love to go to UC Davis for the Section finals. There’s a lot of anticipation and motivation and we’re hoping to go the farthest that Pitman volleyball has ever gone.”

Tuesday’s match will be played at Pitman at 7p.m.