Brian Contreras had a big frown on his face. He just finished talking to a teary-eyed group of young ladies, downcast after losing a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I volleyball championship for the second year in a row.
“You can’t pass, uh, you can’t do, oh, I don’t know,” he mumbled.
He then spoke louder and tried to explain his scheme planned carefully for a very talented Pitman squad that he knew, if executed correctly, would earn a Section banner for the Eagles.
“They really didn’t move that much,” Contreras tried to explain. “We knew what they were going to do. It was stuff we practiced three days for. I don’t know, we didn’t show up tonight.”
But, the scores Saturday night at Tokay High School, site of the Section volleyball championships, were really quite close. The Pride took this year’s title, 19-23, 25-21, 25-16 and 25-23.
Last year, Pitman defeated Pleasant Grove in a tight five-game match and Saturday was much the same, especially during a fourth game that for the fans was worth the price of admission.
Contreras, though, didn’t appear impressed even though 6-5 outside hitter Alexis Light was pelting the Pitman court with slam after slam. Equally impressive was he play of St. Mary’s-bound outside hitter Sienna Young and 5-11 senior Erika Sullivan.
“We couldn’t service well,” he said. “We couldn’t get the ball to our hitters. We need to take swings on the ball.”
The Eagles took the opening set playing quite like the Delta League champions that went 32-4 this season. But, something happened to open the second set that no one could explain. The re-directs and slams just didn’t seem to drop for the Eagles.
Everything Pitman lofted over the net did. They opened that second set 8-0. Though Pleasant Grove narrowed the margin to 21-24, the Pride got a lucky tap to land to take the game.
The Pride continued its solid play the rest of the way, fighting off Pleasant Grove in the deciding fourth game. It was a set with 12 ties and six lead changes.
The Eagle probably could have sent that match into a fifth and deciding 15-point set had two or three of Light’s bullet slams fell in bounds, but they were just outside the lines.
But, the season isn’t over for Pleasant Grove. They’ll open the Northern California Regional tournament Tuesday night as the number four seed and will host No. 5 Foothill Falcons from Pleasanton. The winner of that game will play the winner of No.1 Monte Vista from Danville and eighth-seeded Oakland Tech on Saturday.
“We’ve had a good run (this fall),” Contreras said. “We won something like 23 or 24 in a row. But, it’s all pointless unless we get (a Section championship). That’s what all teams fight for is to get to this game and we just didn’t play well.”
Despite how poorly he thought his girls played Saturday in the Section finals, Contreras thinks he has a team that can go deep in the Regional Tournament.
“If we put our minds to it we can easily win it, I know they can,” he said.
In Division V, Bradshaw Christian is the number six seed after losing its Section championship to Vacaville Christian last Thursday. The scores were 22-25, 20-25, 25-19 and 16-25. The Pride will travel to No. 3 Notre Dame in Salinas Tuesday to open the NorCal Tournament.
Bradshaw was 22-16 this year and finished Section runner-up for the second year in a row.