Pirates can keep season alive at IML volleyball tourney

The Pirate volleyball team wrapped up the regular season last week with two Intermountain League matches.

Pagosa beat Centauri 3-0 Friday at the PSHS gym, then dropped a 2-3 decision at Monte Vista Saturday.

The Pirates finished the regular season with a 2-4 IML record, giving them the No. 3 seed in the upcoming league tourney at Bayfield. Bayfield won the regular season IML title; Monte Vista took second in the standings.

Friday’s match against the Falcons at the PSHS gym was both the final home match of the year and Seniors Night. The Pirates made the most of the occasion, beating Centauri 25-20, 25-22, 25-15.

“This was a good Senior Night sweep,” said Pirate Coach Andy Rice. “It was our second three-game sweep of the year, and it was important. We showed some closing power, taking that third game with a ten-point margin.”

Shelby Stretton capitalized on the emotion of her final match on the home court. The senior outside hitter had 12 kills against Centauri. Senior middle Jennifer Low had six kills.

Senior setter Allison Hart also put up good numbers against the Falcons. Hart logged 21 assists, hit five ace serves and had seven digs.

The momentum from the win Friday carried over to Saturday’s match with Monte Vista.

At least for two games of the match.

The first two games went to the Pirates, 25-23, 25-21, as they attempted to gain revenge for a five-game loss to Monte in a home match earlier in the season.

Game three, however, saw the momentum halt, and the ship sink. The game was close; Pagosa had its chances, but lost 25-27.

From there, it was all downhill. The Pirates lost 10-25 in the fourth game of the match and the hosts sealed the win, taking game five 15-10.

“It was a heartbreaker,” said Rice. “We got good leadership at the start from Allison Hart and Shelby Stretton. Shelby was putting it down from outside and Allison was scoring off the pass, setting the tone. Then, we just fell apart. I am not all that upset losing a close one in game three, but losing the fourth game that badly is upsetting. We lost our passing, there was no blocking, and they rolled over us with strong outside play. At the same time, we got only one kill from our second outside position. By the time we regained some control in the fifth game, it was too late.”

Stretton had 12 kills at Monte, as did junior Kala Matzdorf. Low had 11 kills, as did Hart. The Pirates hit .204 as a team.

Hart had a season-high 41 assists and scored on four aces. Sienna Stretton contributed eight digs. Perhaps the most telling stat in the contest: the Pirates had no blocks during the match.

But, the final standings in the regular league season, in reality, don’t matter — unless a team allows the standings to affect it psychologically.

The reason: The league tournament is, in effect, a new season.

Bayfield, the outright winner of the IML regular-season title advances automatically to the next step in the playoff process, but another team will also make the move. And, the winner of the tournament will host the next round of theplayoffs — the second-place team will travel to the No. 2 finisher in the Tri Peaks League.

“What has happened to this point doesn’t matter,” said Rice. “We need to work toward accomplishing a task at this tournament and think about how we are going to find a way to keep the season alive.”

The Pirates have a critical match at the outset of play. Their first match is against Monte Vista, at approximately 11:30 a.m. at the Bayfield gym. With a win, Pagosa then has the opportunity to find a way to play one more week, at least.

The Pirates’ second match of the tourney follows immediately, against Bayfield, at approximately 1 p.m. Pagosa’s final tournament match, against Centauri, should begin at about 4:30 p.m.