The Lady Pirates wrapped up their season last Friday at a postseason Class 3A regional volleyball tournament in Manitou Springs.
The No. 3-ranked Manitou Springs Mustangs hosted the Grand Valley Fighting Cardinals and the Pirates for an evening of round robin-style play.
Although excited to attend a post season tournament, the team was unable to secure a win against either opponent.
The first match against Grand Valley was close, but the Pirates suffered a 3-2 loss — 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 11-25 and 7-15 . Although the Fighting Cardinals were ranked below the Pirates in regional seeding, they were a good team and the match could have gone either way, regardless of schedules and rankings.
“Grand Valley played better than their ranking and record,” said coach Connie O’Donnell. “Tips and short serves really hurt us in that match.”
The Pirates had only a 15-minute break after the Grand Valley match to prepare for their contest against the No. 3-ranked Mustangs. The Pirates were set back by the Grand Valley loss and it was difficult knowing that Manitou had already beaten the Fighting Cardinals and would be a tough opponent.
“At that point you want to go out and play for pride,” said O’Donnell, “but that’s a tough thing to play for, sometimes.”
Suffering a 3-0 loss to the Mustangs, the Pirates took third at the tournament — Manitou Springs being by far the best opponent the Pirates faced all year.
“The girls did a lot of things well at the tournament,” explained O’Donnell, “but then I feel like we didn’t really step up to the plate mentally.”
Mental focus and working as a team were aspects of play that the Pirates struggled with in the latter part of the regular season. The continuation of these struggles at the tournament contributed to their two losses; lack of mental focus and toughness ultimately kept the team from executing strategies and skills that contribute to wins.
“There were very few quick sets,” said O’Donnell. The team completes quick set attacks when playing well together.
O’Donnell said she hopes this end-of-season experience has made the Pirates hungry to get past regionals next year. Although the Pirates improved and learned as a team throughout the season, there is more work to be done. O’Donnell explained that she wants the team to grow from their experience this season and build on what they’ve learned, especially because they are young and will be playing with almost the same roster of teammates next year. Only one senior, Anissa Lucero, played for the Pirates this year. Hopefully, the individual skills and team cohesion the Pirates have worked on this season will continue to develop next year, taking them to regionals and beyond.