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Pirates wrap up regular season schedule Saturday

The Pirate volleyball team’s week began on a sour note, with a 3-0 loss to Intermountain League rival Bayfield and continued on a rocky path as the team traveled to Fowler Saturday for the annual Grizzly Invitational — one of the toughest small tourneys in the state.

With its victory over Pagosa, Bayfield remained undefeated and cinched the IML regular season title. The loss put the Pirates in a position of having to defeat league foes Centauri and Monte Vista (a team that beat the Pirates in the first league go-round) in order to manage the best possible seeding at the league tournament.

Bayfield crafted a 25-16, 25-12, 25-14 win Oct. 8 over the visiting Pirates before an enthusiastic home crowd.

Pagosa’s offense was tepid against the Wolverines, with no player breaking into double figures in kills. Brinda Wallis led the team with five kills: Kala Matzdorf and Megan Bryant each had three. Casey Meekins had 13 assists in the match and Wallis scored with an ace serve.

On defense, Brooklynn DuCharme had nine digs.

“I thought we did a better job of controlling Gabriella (Rifilato, Bayfield’s senior setter),” said Coach Andy Rice. “We weren’t getting burned as much on second-touch kills. But, in controlling her, we opened up a bit on some of their other hitters. We were more competitive this time around, but our defense needs to pick it up. We were consistently five to ten points behind in each game; they dominated in serving and passing — key fundamentals.”

The trip to Fowler has become a tradition and, more times than not, the Pirates have faced some terrific teams — Fowler and Lamar have consistently put state title contenders on the court.

This year was no different: Fowler, the reigning 2A champs are as good or better than ever, and Lamar is headed for a probable repeat state tourney appearance in 3A. Sangre de Cristo has been among the 2A powers in recent years and has a strong squad this year. McClave has been at the state 1A tournament regularly for several years.

The day began well for Pagosa, with a 2-1 win over McClave. The Pirates started slow against the Cardinals, losing the first game of the match 25-17, but stepped it up to take the next two games 25-21 and 25-22.

“We recovered in the second game behind some solid net play by Kala Matzdorf and Katie Armbrecht,” said Rice, “and game three was a tremendous performance for our team. We fell behind 20-11 due to some poor passing and a few blocking errors. Casey Meekins went to the line and with three aces and eight or nine points scored, got us on top to 23-21 where we were able to aggressively finish the match with a kill from Brinda Wallis. Megan Bryant deserves recognition for solid play and a gutsy performance after moving to the middle for games two and three, and playing on a recently sprained ankle.”

Against Lamar, the Pirates played even with the Savages, getting a lead at 20-19. But, following a sideout, Lamar hit two aces and the Pirates couldn’t recover, losing 25-21. Breezy Bryant led the way for Pagosa in the second game and the Pirates closed to within one point — 23-22 — but the Savages prevailed to take the match 2-0.

“Our performance was solid against Lamar,” said Rice. “But, to win against ranked teams, you have to find another gear for those last few points, and we weren’t able to do that.”

Pagosa played Sangre de Cristo for a second time this season and came out flat, falling behind 9-1. DuCharme hit four aces in the first game but poor passing hurt the Pirates as Sangre won the first game 25-14. The Pirates trailed Sangre in the second game 21-19 but a rotation error hurt the cause. Sangre’s outside hitting power was too much for Pagosa and the Pirates lost the second game 25-21. “Jessica Blum turned in a good passing and defensive performance during this match,” said Rice.

The Fowler Grizzlies are a machine this year, and the machine chewed up Pagosa 25-10. 25-7.

“Bethany Moss, the coach’s daughter, put up 18 kills on us in a pretty short amount of time,” said Rice. “Their passing was impeccable. The good things we did were that Katie and Kala were each able to get a couple blocks, but we couldn’t generate much offense against them. The power Fowler exhibited was an eye-opener for us, showing us we need to improve our arm swings and strive to have good ball control. When we were able to have a formed double block we were able to slow them down. If the block wasn’t closed or they were one-on-one, they hit the seams or around us as well as I have seen at the high school level. We were lucky to be able to participate in such a good tournament and see what the competition would be like at a post-season regional tournament. We are hoping to build on this as we close out the regular season.”

The regular season ends with two matches this week — tomorrow, at Centauri, and Saturday against Monte Vista at the PSHS gym. The Centauri matches begin with C Team action at 4 p.m. The start time Saturday is also 4 p.m.

Saturday’s match will be a combination Senior Night — where the team’s four seniors are honored — and a “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness match. The team encourages all fans to attend and to wear pink. The evening’s gate proceeds will be donated to the American Cancer Society.