PC notebook: Showdown set between Porterville, Fresno
The stage is set.
The match to decide Central Valley Conference volleyball supremacy will take place in the Porterville College gym at 6 p.m. Friday, as the Pirates host six-time defending champ Fresno City College.
With the final match of round one up for grabs, the Rams and Pirates are tied atop the CVC standings at 6-0.
Both teams survived grueling pre-conference schedules, facing some of the top-ranked teams in the state.
Fresno (15-1 overall) is the No. 1 team in the Northern region and No. 3 in California.
Porterville (13-4) enters Friday as the No. 6 team in the North and No. 18 in the state.
While the Pirates have won seven straight matches, the Rams are riding a nine-match winning streak.
So, even with the home court advantage, PC plays the role of underdog.
“That’s us,” said PC coach Dale Henderson.
“No one expects much from us, other than the Porterville Pirates. We’re a small college that wants to be great. Are we out of our league sometimes? Sure. But, I’ll never tell that to our players. We have nothing to lose. Let’s just go have fun.”
Fresno has an enrollment of 35,000 students, while Porterville has 4,000 – the second-lowest student population among the state’s Top 25 volleyball teams.
“On paper, not many people give us a chance against bigger schools – which happens to be most every opponent for us,” said PC athletic director Eric Mendoza, who worked for Fresno City College athletics from 1998-2000.
“That’s one of the great aspects about college sports. You work hard for opportunities to play the best. Our volleyball team represents the Porterville community very well. I couldn’t be more proud of our team, and I hope the fans respond by showing their support on Friday.”
Fresno won both matches last season, including a 3-2 home thriller and a 3-1 season-finale win at PC to claim the CVC championship.
Porterville hasn’t lost a home match since, so Henderson is hoping to turn the tables.
“On one hand, Friday’s match is one of eight remaining – all are equally important,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s Fresno. We have a great amount of respect for coach Tracy (Ainger-Schulte) and her program. We just hope one day, we can put three solid games together and come out victorious. That would be sweet.”
The Pirates will wear their black uniforms on Friday, and are encouraging all PC fans to wear black shirts in support of “Black-Out Night.”
PC is also hosting players from the City of Porterville Parks And Leisure Services Adult Volleyball League.
Mendoza added that several K-12 volleyball teams are expected to attend. Fans should arrive early to find a seat, as the college is expecting its largest crowd of the season.
Doors will open at 5 p.m.