By GANNON HANEVOLD
Moapa Valley Progress
For Moapa Valley High School, there are two known rivalries. They are, of course, Boulder City and Virgin Valley. Perhaps one of the most competitive settings for these rivalries can be found on the volleyball court. With the Pirates heading into Virgin Valley earlier in the season and claiming a victory, they hoped to continue batting 1.000 in road rivalry games with a critical matchup against the Eagles last week.
Like Moapa, Boulder City was undefeated in league play heading into the game. So there was a lot on the line.
But before the Pirates could get to that game, they first had to take on Del Sol at home on Monday, Sept. 25. The Pirates were dominant in that game from the start. In the first set, the team jumped out to a 10-0 lead and ended up winning the first set 25-10.
In the second set, the Pirates got off to a slower start. But with the score at 15-11, the Pirates took charge. Kills by Abbie Evans and Eden Whitmore turned the tide and the Pirates would take the second set 25-15.
In the third set, the Pirates again finished stronger than they started and won 25-15 to claim a 3-0 victory against the Dragons.
While there was excitement about a home win, the real focus for the week centered on the matchup with the Eagles in Boulder City.
In the first set, the Pirates and Eagles battled back and forth, and the Boulder City home crowd was engaged. Despite the deafening crowd, the Pirates fought hard and pulled off a narrow 25-23 victory to open up the match with a 1-0 advantage.
In the second set the Pirates struggled. Trailing 23-18, however, Moapa sparked a rally. They came back to keep the game close. But the Pirates narrowly lost the second set 26-24.
“We were a little jittery for whatever reason,” said Pirate coach Mandie Matheson. “They (Boulder City) have a really loud crowd and we just made a lot of unforced errors. Even though we lost, the last five to eight points of the set was a real turnaround.”
In the third set, the Pirates seemed a lot better than the level they played at in the first two, but it was the fourth set that made a statement. A 25-14 win in the fourth and final set sealed the victory and officially silenced the once loud Eagles student section.
“We started making some adjustments rotation-wise to get some different matchups offensively and defensively,” Matheson said. “When we did, the girls got that fight in their eyes. They decided it just wasn’t going to happen.”
“At the beginning, they played more individually, and towards the end of the second set and in the third and fourth, they got stronger as a team in recognizing matchups,” Matheson added. “I felt like they really came together and that was what picked them up over the top.”
The win against the Eagles puts the Pirates in sole possession of first place in the Sunrise division.But Matheson isn’t concerned about the pressure that puts on her team. “They keep things in perspective,” she said. “They have their minds set on where they want to go and they’re focused on getting better as a team daily. They’re focused on recognizing it’s a team effort and they have to get better every day.”
The Pirate teams has its sights set on a run at a state championship, but still have a few more meetings with rival teams coming up before the regular season wraps up. The win against Boulder City sets the Pirates up with momentum going forward into their upcoming games.