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Volleyball team makes changes, readies for home opener

Staff Writer

As the fall high school sports season nears and practices continue, all things are new, with the promise of positive opportunities ahead.

The Pirate volleyball team is working to see potential become reality as the 2013 season begins next Thursday.

The Pirates had a tough 2012 season, going 12-12 overall, 4-4 in Intermountain League action, and bowing out of the regional tournament with losses to Manitou Springs and Bishop Machebeuf.

If reflection, adjustment and revenge count, last season could function as a motivational springboard for the 2013 squad as the team seeks to take its play to new levels and forge a better record this season.

With practice time under the belt and a good chance to evaluate her prospects, Pirate coach Connie O’Donnell has made some changes in the lineup and in the positions to which some players grew accustomed.

“We have moved people around to different positions,” said O’Donnell, “and we are trying players in places where I think they best belong. It’s been exciting.”

The coach indicated the team will start the season running a 6-2 offense, with setters LaShae Smith (sophomore) and Anissa Lucero (senior).

Two, young players take position in the middle: sophomore Madi Lewis and freshman Megan Farrah.

The strong side outside shows Payton Shahan, a junior, and Brooke Kudelski, a sophomore, at the top of the depth chart, with senior Rose Graveson at the right outside.

Junior Marissa Talamante could see action at libero, with sophomore Miah Pitcher working as a defensive specialist.

Overall, the team brings more height to the court this year and accompanies it with a greater athleticism.

“We like what we’ve been seeing,” said the coach of the roster and the changes. “We might move people around some more, though; we’ve got to do what’s best.”

The season begins with a home match against Montezuma Cortez on Thursday, Aug. 29. Varsity action should begin around 6:30 p.m. The 4A Panthers have long been a strong rival for Pagosa and recent years have seen the team from the west dominate play. A win over the visitors, in particular in the season opener, would send a message to Pagosa’s opponents.

Saturday, Aug. 31, puts the Pirates in competition with three Southern Peaks teams at Monte Vista and, on Saturday, Sept. 7, it’s time for a tournament at Alamosa, featuring the Intermountain league squads — Pagosa, Bayfield, Centauri, Monte Vista and Alamosa. The early-season matchups should give fans a clear indication of which teams could be contenders this year.

Sanford comes over the pass to play the Pirates on Sept. 10.

Pagosa goes back on the road Sept. 12, visiting Farmington High School for a match against the Scorpions and returns to Farmington on Sept. 17 to meet a New Mexico 4A power — Piedra Vista.

The Pirates return to the comfortable confines of the home gym on Sept. 19 to do battle with the Dolores Bears, a perennially tough 2A team.

The first IML contest of the season will pit the Pirates against the 2012 league champion Bayfield Wolverines, at Bayfield, on Sept. 24.

Monte Vista clashes with the Pirates in Pagosa on Sept. 26 and the Pirates travel to Center for a non-league match against the 2A foe on Oct. 1.

Three IML matches follow: against the Mean Moose at Alamosa on Oct. 3, at Centauri on Oct. 5, and at home against Bayfield on Oct. 8.

The league action is spelled by a visit to Pagosa by the Aztec Tigers on Oct. 10.

It’s Pirate versus Pirate as Pagosa meets Monte Vista in the Valley on Oct. 17, and the Pirates go west to meet the Ignacio Bobcats on Oct. 22.

The regular season schedule closes with two home, IML contests — against Alamosa on Oct. 24 and Centauri on Oct. 26.

This story was posted on August 22, 2013.