It was crunch time for the Pirate volleyball team and Pagosa used the hammer when it counted.
With four Intermountain League matches left in the regular season, Pagosa had to beat Alamosa and Centauri in order to make a run at second place in the standings heading into the district tournament. Two wins would put the team in a position of having to win one of two remaining contests in order to be in position to seal second place.
The game against Alamosa last Thursday loomed large. The Mean Moose had beaten the Pirates 3-2 Sept. 23 in the PSHS gym. Pagosa not only had to beat the Mean Moose but had to do so in Alamosa.
Pagosa 3, Alamosa 1.
The Pirates got out of the chute fast, taking the first game 25-18. Pagosa went out front 6-0 then extended the advantage to 15-6. Alamosa was never able to overcome the lead.
In game two, the hosts battled back for a decisive 25-9 win and the Pirates faced the classic volleyball scenario: a home team notching a dominating victory then riding the momentum through to another win.
Not so last Thursday. Pagosa overcame Alamosa’s slight early lead to tie the game at 10. Senior middle Katie Armbrecht and sophomore middle Gabby Pajak put points on the board and the Pirates took and held the lead, going on to take back the momentum, 25-14.
The fourth game of the match was a tense affair, the teams locked throughout. The home team took a 22-19 lead near game’s end, but the Pirates battled back, tying at 24 and scoring two answered points. Pagosa left the San Luis Valley with a 26-24 victory and the important mark in the IML win column
Brinda Wallis led the scoring on the attack with 13 kills. Breezy Bryant and Magan Kraetsch each had six kills against the Mean Moose, Brooklyn DuCharme and Pajak five each.
Bryant and Armbrecht each hit five aces in the game, Bryant serving for 16 points, Armbrecht for 13.
Armbrecht logged two solo blocks during the match.
DuCharme led the way in the back court on defense with 33 digs. Pajak had 21, Wallis 20.
“It was really fun,” said Coach Connie O’Donnell of the Alamosa victory. “The girls had a good time. The crowd was loud and we played very well. I’m not sure what team showed up for game two, but they turned the tables after that. Katie Armbrecht did a great job serving the last four points of the deciding game. They called two timeouts and she kept her focus and served for the four points right next to that crowd. It didn’t bother our girls; they just shrug their shoulders and play. I appreciate that about them.”
Centauri rolled into town Saturday and left on the bad side of a 3-0 match.
The first two games were fairly close, with errors on both sides of the net giving away points, and the Pirates playing without starting middle Armbrecht. Pagosa took those games 25-22 and 25-21. Game three was not so close. The Pirates stepped up and won the game and match, 25-13
Wallis had a good night hitting from outside. When the set was delivered properly, the senior was tagging the ball with force, putting kills both cross court and down the line. She had 11 on the night, hitting .350.
Kraetsch scored with six kills on 12 attempts. DuCharme and Bryant each had four kills against the Falcons.
Bryant had 12 assists, Wallis six.
Bryant led the way at the serve line with four aces; Kraetsch served three aces. Pajak served for 10 points against Centauri.
“We played a bit out of synch,” said O’Donnell. “We were missing a starter (Armbrecht) and that throws you off. But, we started all our seniors for their final home game of their careers and we did well.”
Tuesday, it was off to Bayfield to face the league-leading Wolverines — a team unbeaten in IML play.
Pagosa dropped the match to Bayfield, losing 25-20, 25-18, 25-16.
“We didn’t play that well,” said the coach. “Bayfield is beatable and we didn’t give them our best effort. We had a hard time on defense; we were struggling a bit, and we had trouble getting the ball to our hitters.”
Tonight marks the end of the regular season as Pagosa travels to Monte Vista for another must-win match. The action begins at 4 p.m. with a C Team contest.
“We need to beat Monte Vista to finish second in the league,” said O’Donnell. (The No. 1 team, Bayfield, hosts a district tournament; the No. 2 and 3 teams take to the road.) “We need to focus on our strengths — serving, serve receive and defense — and we’ll have a better outcome. We have moments of greatness and they have to come out more often.”