She’s a Warrior: Cat grad Pittman headed to Stan State

In February, former Sonora Wildcat star Ashley Pittman phoned Christina Lore, the eight-year head volleyball coach of Stanislaus State.

You need a libero?

"I'm good friends with Christina and know what that phone call meant to

her," said Sonora Wildcat head volleyball coach Kim Evans. "Christina

had been following Ashley since she was a sophomore at Sonora. It was a

great surprise to Christina to get that call but also a great feeling

of excitement, too."

"Well," said Lore, "I had talked to Ashley after she had graduated from

Sonora (2010) and it just wasn't the right fit at that time for her. I

had no problem with that. But to get that call a few years later from

her? I said, 'Sure, come on down for a tryout.' "

On March 1, Lore, her assistant coach and five other Stanislaus players

fired spikes and fast serves at Pittman for close to two hours.

"My nerves sure would have been high with a one-day tryout like that,"

said Evans. "Stanislaus plays in one of the top NCAA Division II

conferences in the nation (California Collegiate Athletic Association).

Christina runs a great program. It's a tough place to try and make the

team. But, then again, we're talking about Ashley Pittman here: She's

tough, she can pass nails and you can't find a harder worker."

"Ashley did great on the court," said Lore. "I really liked the way she

was moving. Plus she has this presence on the court that's very

important. But that was only a small part of the tryout."

"I was pretty nervous knowing that it was only a one-day tryout," said

Pittman. "But I've been playing volleyball for a long time and I do

know the game for the most part so I was OK once we got going on the

court.

"But the most interesting thing was what came afterwards: I kept

getting peppered with all these personality-type of questions by

Christina and her assistant coach while we walked around the campus. I

had no idea what all these questions were for - and there were a lot of

them. And when they were done questioning me, she said, 'OK, we're

gonna take all your answers back to the other players on our team and

see if you fit in.' So then I was really nervous: Had I said anything

wrong?"

"This year, because we have such a young team," said Lore, "personality

is the most important part to me. We need to have a team that will

blend well together. So that is why, when we were done working out with

Ashley, I had asked her lots and lots of personality-type questions."

"But, of course, personality is the biggest strength of Ashley

Pittman's," said Evans. "She's honest, honorable, humble, a great

leader and a great friend."

Just days later, Lore called and asked Pittman to join the Stanislaus State Warriors.

"It actually turned out to be quite an easy decision for us," said

Lore. "Ashley has that type of personality we're looking for. The fact

that she is so talented was the icing on the cake. We wanted her."

As Lore very well knew, Sac State was also courting Pittman.

"But this decision for me was easy," said Pittman. "I liked Coach

Lore's approach to things. She's very intense, which is perfect for me.

She's honest. She didn't over-promise. She just stated the facts: That

she has five defensive specialists, I'm one of them, three of us will

travel, and I'll have a legitimate shot to prove myself and earn the

starting libero spot."

"Ashley was a fantastic libero for us last season and I have no doubt

that she will rise to the occasion at Stanislaus State, too," said

Gabby Houston, Cabrillo College's three-year head volleyball coach.

"The first day I saw her play, I thought, 'Wow! We have someone very

special here.' "

After playing her freshman year at Dominican College - "That wasn't a

bad experience," said Pittman, "it just wasn't what I was looking for"

- Pittman moved to Santa Cruz County, quickly cracked Cabrillo's

starting lineup, was named team captain and led the Seahawks to a No. 4

finish in State, 28-3 overall record and Coast Conference championship.

Along the way, Pittman earned First-Team Honors in the

highly-competitive Delta Classic Tournament.

"There is absolutely no way we could have enjoyed the success we had

last season without Ashley," said Houston. "She never came off the

court. She was so serious - which I loved - and so dedicated towards

making her teammates and herself better. She was the team leader, and

she was so smart in the way she approached each game."

"Gabby would preach to me that, as a libero, I was her 'Traffic

controller,' " says Pittman. "I embraced that. I would be responsible

for knowing where the opposing blockers were, where they were likely to

go, and tell our hitters where to hit. And then on defense, I had to

know where their hitters were, guess where they wanted to hit - and be

correct. You do have to be a bit of a mind reader to be an effective

libero."

Which may explain in part why Pittman may add Psychology as a double

major. She has been majoring these past two school years in

Kinesiology.

"I've always had an interest in physical therapy," said Pittman, "but

I've been thinking a lot lately about Psychology - particularly Sports

Psychology."

Pittman carries the same tenacity she has on the volleyball court into

the classroom. She got all A's at Sonora. At Dominican, Pittman got all

A's except for one course - an A-minus. In her first semester at

Cabrillo, for the first time in her life, she actually saw what a "B"

on a report card looked like.

"And I did not like that at all!" she says with a chuckle. "I was determined that wouldn't happen in the next semester."

A resolute Pittman finished up at Cabrillo with A's in each of her four classes.

"Ashley is a winner," says Evans. "She's a winner in the classroom and

a winner on the court. The libero position fits her because it's a job

where you must be the ultimate teammate. You're captain of the

backcourt, so you must be humble and tough at the same time, and that's

Ashley.

"She makes those opposing hitters so frustrated because that volleyball

will be three inches off the ground and there's Ashley digging that

ball up - robbing you of a kill."

"Ashley is so talented in that back row," said Lore. "I know how

competitive she is. But she'll also be bringing a lot of maturity to

our team. She's a junior now with a lot of college-playing experience

and we're quite young this season. Being from Sonora - with its winning

tradition - is a big plus. Being from that area - where there are so

many talented players - is a plus. I'm confident she'll bring great

spunk and enthusiasm to our team. We're real excited that we'll have

Ashley for the next two years. And I'm glad that she found what she was

looking for with us.

"When you think about it, overall, it's just a win-win situation for both Ashley and our team."

11877124
The Union Democrat
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