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Pride volleyball hope to repeat previous success
Bulldogs: New year, new scheme
pitman vb pic 1
Lindsey Vander Weide enters her senior season after a killer junior year. The future Oregon Duck has progressed immensely after every year and comes into this season with high expectations. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

Pitman volleyball is coming off one of the more successful years in head coach Kristen Pontes’ career after amassing a record of 33-5 throughout the course of a difficult season and reaching the Division I section semifinals.

The Pride managed to top off the year with a perfect 15-0 CCC posting and was ranked 65th in state after the year concluded.

“The 2013 team absolutely met my goals for the season. We had the best overall record in Pitman volleyball history,” Pontes said. “And we went the farthest in playoffs, losing to the eventual state champions.”

2014 will provide an interesting year for the Pride, who say goodbye to six playmaking seniors from the previous year. This year also marks the final season of future Oregon Duck player in Lindsey Vander Weide.

The Pride returns Ashleigh Phelps and big-time setter in Madelyn Halteman to play alongside Vander Weide, so this team will be a contender.

“Maddy and Lindsey will definitely lead the team this season, but we have many other very strong players to make this team very well rounded with great depth,” said Pontes. “We have a very solid defense, amazing setting and very powerful hitting. Most importantly, we have consistency and the drive to win and compete every match. “

The Pride bring back eight returning players with seven seniors on the upcoming roster.

Add one sophomore in Yisel Perez along with one freshman in Whitney Barnes, and this team is prepared for the future.

“I intend to prep the team this year similar to last year. The dynamics of every team is always different, but the players this season have just as much talent if not more,” Pontes said. “So, we will have multiple goals to push the girls throughout the season — intense conditioning and training has already started. I am excited to see what this season holds for these very talented ladies.”

Turlock comes off a rough season in 2013, but head coach Amber Castillon has rebuilt her entire game plan and is confident her team will rise above after tallying a 7-20 posting the previous year.

“Last year was a disappointing season all the way around,” said Castillon. “There were some problems and adjustments needed to be made that broke down our ability for the team to mesh. We have done a complete program-wide change with all levels, should be an interesting year for us.”

The Bulldogs graduated four seniors from 2013 and return eight.

“We're very excited this year, some key returners, and also incoming players that will be impactful,” Castillon said. “We're only in our first week of hell week so names and teams we are still working on that. We don’t even think or talk of last season, nothing we're dwelling on.”

Castillon also has a brand new philosophy and game plan.

“From freshmen through varsity, philosophy, offense and defense all is new this year,” she said. “This season we're looking at pattering ourselves and resemble USA volleyball and looking at those philosophies and incorporating into our program. There is a new energy and excitement that’s been in the gym and anybody that comes in and sees it will feel it, it’s in the air.

 “Just that there’s an excitement and not false there’s a reason for it,” Castillon added. “The overall change we're making and made will be playing consistent from level to level and more cohesive and everybody is on the same mind set and that’s a powerful thing.”

The Bulldogs' first game is set for 6 p.m. Sept. 3 at Turlock Christian High.

Pitman's first game will be 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Hilmar High.