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Pirates get first league win of the season

The Pirates split the schedule last week, dropping a 3-1 road match to the Kirtland N.M. Broncos and returning home Friday to beat the Centauri Falcons 3-2 to log their first Intermountain League victory of the season.

Kirtland came out strong against Pagosa and gained a 25-13 victory in the first game.

Pagosa returned the favor, putting together a good effort to beat the Broncos 25-19 in game two. The home team then secured decisive 25-14, 25-9 wins to close out the evening.

Three Pirates had four kills each against the Broncos: Brinda Wallis, Kala Matzdorf and Jessica Blum.

Casey Meekins was credited with 16 assists. Kelsi Lucero scored with three ace serves.

Brooklyn DuCharme led the way on defense with 10 digs; Katie Armbrecht had two blocks.

“We didn’t start strong,” said Coach Andy Rice, “ but we showed a good response coming back in that second game. You’ve got to give them (Kirtland) credit: their defense was exceptional. They were digging everything.”

In order to stay in the running for a postseason playoff berth, the Pirates had to defeat Centauri. A win would keep the Pirates within striking distance of Monte Vista, currently No. 2 in the league standings.

At first the prospects seemed dim. The Falcons, with first-year coach and former Pirate Kim Canty at the helm, flew ahead in the match, taking a 25-14 win in the first game.

The Pirates regrouped and came back to win the second game, 25-16.

The third game of the match went to the wire, with the visitors managing a slim 26-24 win.

With the pressure on, the Pirates rallied and took game four 25-15 to force the match to a deciding fifth game — to 15.

Pagosa won the final game 15-9 to grab the victory.

Wallis ended the evening with 11 kills. Megan Bryant had 10 kills; Matzdorf put nine kills down against the Falcons.

Meekins finished with 28 assists; she and Wallis each served two aces.

DuCharme recorded 11 digs, Meekins nine and Sienna Stretton six.

“We were able to pull it out,” said Rice. “We came out flat and we were all kind of shocked that we couldn’t get it going. We let that first game slip away before we found our rhythm.”

Rice said the Pirates “tweaked the rotation” a bit in the second game. “It worked, then we had a big lead in the third game before we started to lose ground. Next thing we knew, it was 24-24. But, we found some offensive rhythm and our fundamentals improved in games four and five.”

Rice said he believed his team had “the best, balanced offensive effort yet this season,” against the Falcons. “And Megan Bryant had her best outing of the year.”

The win was vital, not just in terms of the IML standings, but in other ways as well. “We needed it,” said Rice. “We needed it for our psyches and because we’re going into a big weekend.”

First up is another crucial IML match — tonight, at Bayfield. The Wolverines continue with their undefeated season and lead the IML. Action starts with C Team play at 4 p.m.

Then, it’s back on the road for the Pirates, for the annual trip to Fowler, Volleyball Mecca, for the Grizzly Invitational. Fowler is riding high, leading the 2A standings and the returning state champs invariably put together a tough field at their tourney: McClave, Sangre de Cristo and Lamar are all ranked in the top 10 in their classifications.