After securing two straight wins the week before, the Pirate volleyball team struggled this week against strong opponents and an exhausting travel schedule.
First, the Pirates traveled to the San Luis Valley to face Alamosa. The absence of two starting players due to illness prompted coach Connie O’Donnell to change up some positions, hoping to facilitate team flow. The change, in fact, had the opposite effect, causing confusion and frustration on the court.
O’Donnell attributed some of the 1-3 loss to the Mean Moose to coaching error. “I really took away the rhythm on the court when I switched things around a bit,” the coach said. ”We got called out of rotation a lot.”
Despite losing the first two sets 9-24 and 7-25, the Pirates rallied to win the third, 25-17.
O’Donnell described how this set made her proud as the girls could have, “easily given up the third game and walked away, but didn’t.” The Pirates lost the fourth set 16-25.
The team traveled to the Valley again last Friday to face Centauri in a league match. This time, O’Donnell tried to keep positions and rotations consistent with what the girls had practiced and the resulting rhythm helped them play more successfully.
Although the team was still missing a couple of players, the coach relayed how well the girls stood behind each other. “Everyone was cheering from the bench, and the JV and C teams really got into the game,” said the coach. Pagosa won the match at Centauri 3-1.
The girls struggled again Tuesday against rival Bayfield in a home match, losing in three sets 11-25, 14-25 and 16-25.
The coach discussed how Bayfield is a physically tough opponent, with a lot of height. “When they attack the ball, it comes down hard and fast and there isn’t much we can do. We kept giving them free balls when what we needed to do was attack more,” O’Donnell said. Bayfield is both a physically and mentally challenging opponent for the Pirates to take on and mental toughness will be paramount in any re-match.
The Pirates come into tonight’s match against the Aztec Tigers with an overall record of 9-9. This match will be tough both because Aztec is a physically challenging opponent with a good away record and because a loss to the Pirates would hurt Aztec’s end-of-season ranking in New Mexico.
At the same time, a Pirate win would help Pagosa’s rankings for regionals. The Pirates host the Tigers tonight at 6:30 p.m. in their Pink Game. The players will wear pink jerseys and spectators are encouraged to wear pink in support of breast cancer awareness; half of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to support breast cancer awareness.