The Pirate volleyball team closed out the regular season the way they needed to — with two, important Intermountain League victories.
The Pirates traveled to La Jara last Friday to play the second of two regular-season league matches with the Centauri Falcons. The team came home with a 3-1 win, 25-20, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21.
Brinda Wallis had 11 kills against the Falcons; Kala Matzdorf and Katie Armbrecht each had eight kills.
Setter Casey Meekins put up 25 assists during the match.
Breezy Bryant scored with four ace serves, Matzdorf served three aces.
Brooklynn DuCharme managed 15 digs on defense, Wallis nine. Armbrecht had three solo blocks, Megan Bryant two.
“We had only one hiccup in that match,” said coach Andy Rice. “We were happy to get out of there in four; we didn’t want to look ahead to Monte Vista.”
Rice noted a step up in the quality of play by the Pirates, one that began at Centauri and continued Saturday against Monte Vista.
“The story of our success in the last couple matches is the play of our middles. Kala and Katie had thirty kills between them in two matches, with just four errors in four matches. They’ve been very efficient; they aren’t making mistakes. Teams have had trouble slowing them down and, as a result, our outsides aren’t getting doubled as much.”
Rice singled out Magan Kraetsch for her play against the Falcons. “Magan came in on the right side and gave us a boost,” said the coach.
Saturday, Monte Vista rolled into town for a rematch with the Pirates. In the previous go-round, Monte defeated Pagosa 3-2.
At the PSHS gym Saturday, the story was different, with Pagosa getting a 3-0 win over their league rival, 25-19, 25-22, 25-18.
Matzdorf led the way on offense from her middle hitter position, getting eight kills: Armbrecht had six kills from the middle, Jessica Blum five from the right side.
Meekins had 21 assists. Matzdorf earned points with four ace serves; DuCharme and Megan Bryant each hit two aces.
DuCharme had an outstanding evening in the backcourt, recording 21 digs during the match . Matzdorf had one solo block.
“This win was a huge confidence boost for us,” said Rice. “It was Senior Night, and all four seniors (Matzdorf, Blum, Meekins and Megan Bryant) contributed, Megan Bryant came in, played in the back row and served two aces. We got kills from Jessica Blum on the right side —?kills at crucial times in the match. And, again, our middles were dominant; their connection with Casey is better. We also did a good job of closing our block. We were hustling; balls weren’t hitting the floor. It was the best team hustle we’ve had this year.”
That hustle, and the improvements made in the last several matches will have to be in evidence Saturday as the Pirates travel to Monte Vista for the IML tournament.
Two teams will advance from the tourney to play a week later at the district level. One of those teams will be Bayfield — the IML regular-season champ. In fact, Bayfield, on the basis of record, will advance as the league’s No. 1 seed, regardless of how the Wolverines play Saturday.
So, it is a three-team race to see which team advances as the No. 2 seed. And it is a four-team race to see who emerges as tournament champion.
With Pagosa’s three-game win over Monte, the Pirates are the league’s second-seeded team at Saturday’s tournament, and they open play at 9 a.m. against the hosts, Monte Vista.
“Our focus has to be on the match with Monte,” said Rice. “It’s an early morning game, in their gym. We’ll be practicing in the morning to get ready. We need to play better, improve our confidence and our fundamentals in order to get out of there and play another week.”
Pagosa plays Centauri at 11:30 a.m. then finishes tournament play against Bayfield at 3:15 p.m.