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Pirate volleyball team opens season tonight

Staff Writer

SUN photo/Randi Pierce Payton Shahan stuffs a shot during a Saturday scrimmage demonstrating one of the reasons she is going to start at the middle hitter/blocker position for the Pirates. Outside hitter Megan Farrah looks on. The Pirates get the season off to a fast start tonight as they face the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers at the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium.

SUN photo/Randi Pierce
Payton Shahan stuffs a shot during a Saturday scrimmage demonstrating one of the reasons she is going to start at the middle hitter/blocker position for the Pirates. Outside hitter Megan Farrah looks on. The Pirates get the season off to a fast start tonight as they face the Montezuma-Cortez Panthers at the Pagosa Springs High School gymnasium.

Each year, the Pirate volleyball team hosts a Saturday scrimmage on the weekend prior to the start of the season.

Teams from the region, and some from points distant, travel to Pagosa and test each other in unscored matches.

The scrimmage allows players to become better accustomed to competition and gives coaches the opportunity to take a final look at their athletes in action as opening day approaches.

Saturday, teams from Del Norte, Centauri, Sanford, Dolores, Cortez, Durango, Sargent, Bayfield and Ignacio came to town as did Fowler, a perennial Colorado 2A contender from the eastern plains.

Coach Connie O’Donnell made the most of the day as she and her players readied themselves for tonight’s home match against Cortez.

The day proved satisfying, and unpredictable as O’Donnell used the matches as a laboratory.

“The day went well,” said the coach. “We played Durango right off the bat, and we struggled a bit. After that, we did very well. I changed players’ positions with every rotation and in every match. They took it in stride and did what they were asked.”

The experiment paid off: the variations in player combinations and positions gave O’Donnell the information she needed to make last-minute changes to the lineup.

Junior Payton Shahan — last week slated for the outside — will move to the middle and will be joined there by sophomore Madi Lewis.

Freshman Megan Farrah, originally destined for the middle, will move to the outside, alternating there with sophomore Brooke Kudelski. Sophomore Miah Pitcher will play at the right side, outside.

The setters in the 6-2 offense will be senior veteran Anissa Lucero and sophomore LaShae Smith.

“I decided to move Payton back to the middle, because she did so well there,” said O’Donnell, “and Madi will stay at the other middle. This lineup seemed to be what worked better during the scrimmages.”

The coach is ready to go, with the season opening tonight at the Pagosa Springs High School gym. The opponent is a familiar one, and a longtime rival — 4A Montezuma Cortez, a team that has had its way with Pagosa the past few seasons. “We purposely didn’t scrimmage Cortez Saturday,” said the coach. “They had only seven players at the scrimmage, with not a lot of height, so there’s no telling about their depth this year.”

It is time to turn the corner with the Panthers and O’Donnell and her charges are eager to do so.

“I’m excited,” said the coach. “It’s always exciting as school starts, the fall sports season begins and the season changes.”

The C team match begins today at 4 p.m., to be followed by junior varsity play and, finally, varsity action. The predicted start time for the varsity match is 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, the Pirates hit the road and travel to Monte Vista for a tourney pitting Intermountain League and Southern Peaks League teams. Pagosa takes on three Peaks opponents: Sargent, Center and the always tough Sangre de Cristo. Thunderbirds.

This story was posted on August 29, 2013.