The Pirates’ 2010 volleyball season got underway at the Monte Vista tournament last Saturday and the team, with new coach Connie O’Donnell at the helm, started strong with two wins in three matches.
The tourney pitted teams from the Intermountain League (Pagosa, Monte Vista and Centauri) against teams from the Southern Peaks League (Sargent, Sangre de Cristo and Center).
The tourney started on a low note for Pagosa. Though the team played fairly well in its first match of the year, the Pirates fell to Sargent 21-25, 21-25, 17-25.
“Sargent is a good small-school team,” said O’Donnell. “They pulled away at the end. I didn’t think we played badly; we did a lot of good things.”
Center was next for Pagosa, and the Pirates dispatched the Vikings 25-14, 25-7, 25-18.
“Center is a lot like us, in that they are working on new things, with a new coach (former Pagosa assistant Annie Rice),” said O’Donnell. “ I think they will do good things in that program.
“We passed great. In fact, we passed great all day long. All the work we have put in on our passing paid off. We got the ball there and had chances to set things up.”
Sangre de Cristo has established itself as one of Colorado’s better 2A programs in recent years and the Thunderbirds provided a difficult test for the Pirates. Pagosa went down two games before turning on the power, rallying and winning three straight to take the match 20-25, 20-25, 25-18, 25-8, 25-9.
“Early on,” said the coach “ it felt a lot like the first match of the day. In the third game, I challenged the girls to play five points at a time — be the first to five, be the first to ten, be the first to fifteen, and so on. We started playing more aggressive. We didn’t want to play it safe; it is better to make mistakes playing aggressive volleyball. Brinda Wallis (outside hitter) really came on strong in the last games against Sangre. She was getting some good sets and she was hitting well, It was exciting. It was a long match and I am proud of our players. I told them it is hard to get down two games and come back to win. We were aggressive at the net, blocking well, and we haven’t practiced on that a lot so far. Katie (Armbrecht) and Gabby (Pajak), our middle blockers, were getting a lot of solo blocks.”
Tuesday night, the Pirates opened the home schedule against traditional rival Cortez. The Panthers have established a reputation as a consistently strong 4A program and they came to town eager to continue a win streak established several years back. And that is what
Cortez did, winning 25-14, 25-21, 25-17.
“We came out jittery, nervous,” said O’Donnell. “It was our first match at home and it felt like the first match of the season. We did a lot of things right, but we still have things to fix. We had a problem with serving, which hasn’t bothered us this season, or over the summer. We were too tentative; we need to be aggressive all the time. And we had a bit of hesitation in the back row. Now that this match is out of the way, it will be helpful — we can learn from it.
“We’re just so new at everything — this group, this rotation, this coach. At this point in the season, we are walking into a lot of things blind, so we need to take care of attacks by blocking consistently, and by executing the basics well — serving, passing, setting.”
The Pirates get a crack at Durango tonight, at Durango, then travel to Sangre de Cristo Saturday. The team returns home Tuesday for match with Farmington. Action Tuesday begins with C Team play at 4 p.m.