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It’s a young team.
The players are mobile, fast and continue to improve with each outing.
The Pirate volleyball team won three of four matches at Saturday’s Intermountain League tournament at Adams State in Alamosa and entered this week with a 5-3 record.
From here out, it will be an uphill battle, but one that coach Connie O’Donnell thinks her players can handle.
Pagosa’s wins Saturday came with 2-1 advantages over Monte Vista, Alamosa and Centauri.
“We lost some games,” said O’Donnell, “but we got turned around in each case, forgot about it and were able to play. That’s what’s great about volleyball.”
The Pirates lost the first game to Monte Vista 23-25, but won the next two fairly easily, 25-19, 25-13. Statistics for the match were not available.
“Once we took the momentum,” said the coach, “we didn’t lose it. We served tough against them, with a lot of aces. The girls are getting good at putting the ball to an empty spot.”
Alamosa played Bayfield prior to the match with the Pirates, and did a credible job in a loss to the Wolverines, with an outstanding libero taking the spotlight for the Mean Moose. The pattern did not hold for the hometown team, however, as Pagosa captured the first and third games to take the match (15-25, 25-19, 25-18).
“They (Alamosa) didn’t play with as much enthusiasm as they did against Bayfield,” said O’Donnell.
Junior Payton Shahan had four of eight Pirate blocks from her middle blocker position, while Brooke Kudelski served two aces. Megan Farrah put six kills down from the outside. Marissa Talamante recorded 14 digs in the match with 18 successfully received serves. LaShae Smith put up 13 assists.
The service game stood out again when the Pirates met the Centauri Falcons and a change in offense made a difference in the 2-1 Pirate win. Statistics for the match were not available.
“Our serve placement was very good,” said the coach.
Centauri features a strong middle blocker, so O’Donnell moved the Pirate attack outside. “We used our middle a lot against Alamosa and Monte Vista,” she said, “then switched the attack outside against the Falcons and against Bayfield.”
If there is a front runner in the IML at this early stage of the season, it is Bayfield. The Wolverines are riding a streak with a number of very successful years and feature a new coach and a roster with height and experience.
While an advantage might seem obvious, it is not real enough to make a Bayfield defeat in league action impossible before the end of the regular season.
And the team that could get that win is Pagosa.
The Pirates lost to Bayfield 3-0 at Adams State — 17-25,17-25, 23-25. Statistics for the match were not available.
The Wolverines feature two big and experienced middles but, although Pagosa went down to defeat, the young Pirates functioned well, getting a number of attacks through the Bayfield block.
O’Donnell saw things that pleased her as her charges battled the defending league champs.
“We were good on defense,” said the coach, “and good on the attack, getting through their blocks a number of times. And, we blocked them. We played well, but could have been more confident. Confidence was the difference. We need to work on mental preparation prior to a game and come to the court ready, rather than taking a game to get ready.
“We played good defense all day, did a good job of moving and getting to balls in the back row. We had to make some adjustments; we were giving up the line too often, but I was proud of all our girls. They are young but, I think because of that, they play pretty fearlessly. They improve with every game.”
The team faced the 1A Sanford Indians Tuesday in what might be the first regular season meeting for the programs. No score was available by press time.
Then, the Pirates get a serious out-of-state test, with two matches in New Mexico. Thursday, the team travels to Farmington to meet the Scorpions on their home court, continuing a rivalry that goes back more than a decade. Action starts with C team play at 4 p.m.
On Tuesday, Sept. 17, the Pirates board the bus for another trip to Farmington to battle Piedra Vista, a team that has had notable success in New Mexico high school action for a number of seasons. Start time is again at 4 p.m.