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Volleyball season ends at IML tournament

The Pirate volleyball season ended with a 0-3 performance at the Intermountain League tournament Saturday, at Monte Vista.

The Pirates fell behind the Eight Ball early, with a 3-0 loss to Monte Vista in the first match of the day, 18-25, 10-25, 18-25.

“After a nice victory over here and an excellent practice Friday, we came out flat and maybe overconfident and not ready for the playoff pressure.,” said Coach Andy Rice. “Before we knew it, we were down 8-0 and became extremely tentative offensively, resorting to tips far too often. The closest we came was 16-20 on some nice serving by Kala Matzdorf, but we were not able to overcome that poor start.

“The second game was not competitive as we had no answer for their attack from outside. Even focusing our blocking scheme on their outside hitter, she was still able to put the ball over and through us.

“The third game was close until 13-16. We had a paltry six total aces for the match. (Brinda Wallis three, Casey Meekins two, Matzdorf one). Unfortunately all the fundamentals — our passing, setting, blocking — were too inconsistent to win this match. I would like to give Monte Vista credit, though; they were in system most of the time and deserved to win the match.”

In the second match of the day, the Pirates lost to the Centauri Falcons in five games — 25-15, 9-25, 20-25, 25-21, 14-16.

“After what I am pretty sure was a way-too-nice player-only meeting,” said the coach, “we came out and dominated Centauri in the first game. Senior Jessica Blum and sophomore Brooklynn Ducharme dominated at the serving line, combining to serve over half of our twenty-five points. It wasn’t aces, but they served tough enough that Centauri was giving us free balls back. That was one of our major goals of the previous match; get them out of system.

“I think both teams were not very focused, thinking their seasons were already over. Somehow, we inexplicably let off the gas and got killed in the second game. No excuses, we got outhustled in games two and three, and by the time we recovered and played our game, it was too late.

“Junior Kelsi Lucero came in and gave a spark in game four, serving for a total of six points at the beginning of the game. Fifth games are a battle of wills and we thought we overcame a slow start, but Centauri, to their credit, did not quit and erased a 14-12 deficit to win 16-14. We had three good swings to put this one away and were not able to do it.

“Though we had some sporadic, excellent play, we did not deserve to win this match and whether we were looking ahead or behind it came back to bite us. To their credit our seniors’ improved play during this match kept us in it. Jessica Blum’s offense and Kala Matzdorf’s net play deserve special mention.”

A noble effort fell short against Bayfield in the final match of the day. The Pirates took the league champs to five games, but could not finish off the Wolverines in the deciding game. Bayfield prevailed: 17-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-23, 12-15.

“The word I emphasized in the pregame was ‘character,’” said Rice. “We were now officially eliminated and were only playing for pride. It turned out to be a very entertaining match. And with the pressure off, the girls turned in probably their best performance of the season. It took us a game to get in rhythm but once we did, we played the undefeated and Top Five wolverines even the rest of the way.

“Kala (Matzdorf) served seven points in that second game ,including two aces. Improved net play — something we obtained near the end of the season — allowed us to be successful, as our entire front row had moments of brilliance with blocks or attacks.?

“The fifth game went from 6-7 to 6-11 and after our final timeout, we couldn’t overcome the deficit.

“I was extremely proud of the character the team showed in this match. It would have been very easy to just pack it up and not show up for this one. All season long, we used an eight- or nine-player rotation. This requires individual sacrifice and contributions from many players. This match showed how maximizing your talents can raise the level of play of your team. I believe we were just the second team this season to take Bayfield to five, so kudos to the girls for finishing the season with a strong effort.”

Senior setter Casey Meekins and sophomore Libero Brooklynn Ducharme were named to the all-tournament team.