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Friday, August 24, 2001

Eagles down Matadors to start off tournament

Staff Writer
In a season that so far has gone the opposite way of most other seasons for the Pecos Eagles in recent years, the opening match of the Cantaloupe Classic Volleyball Tournament this morning also began differently for Pecos _ which in this case was a good thing.

The Eagles, who have had a habit of starting slowly in pool round play in their own tournament over the years, got off to a good start this morning against El Paso Parkland, as they took advantage of the Matadors' problems handling serves and setting up shots to score a 15-11, 15-9 win in their first of their four matches today.

"It's getting better," said Eagles' coach Becky Granado, whose team came into play today with a 2-8 record, after losing only nine games all of last season. "I had a talk with my seniors about leadership, and they're going to start working at it. I could tell there was a difference today. It was just a matter of stepping up."

The Eagles have had trouble handling serves and passing the ball so far in 2001, and that's the way this morning's match started. A mishandled serve by Kathy Maldonado, a spike by Parkland's Jennifer Alonzo and an ace serve by Bridget Walters got the Matadors out to a 7-4 lead (all pool games start with a 4-4 score and don't count in the overall team season records). But the Eagles then broke serve and got on the board when Jessica Martinez blocked Elizabeth Vera's tip attempt, then scored the next five points on a pair of serves by Christina Arenivas, a spike by Tiana Terry a bad set by Alonzo and a serve by Maldonado.

The Matadors would rally to tie the game twice, at 10-10 and 11-11, but both times the Eagles were able to break serve and regain the lead, before winning off a bad spike by Vera and two kills by Terry.

The second game also closed out with a Terry spike, after the Eagles had gone out to a 12-6 lead when Parkland had problems handling Arenivas' serves. El Paso did close to within 12-9 on an ace by Vanessa Castro and spikes by Walters and Alexis Clark, but after a time out the Eagles broke serve and won off missed hits by Clark and Walters and Terry's spike between two Parkland blockers.

"Tiana came around today and our blocking is improving, but we're still struggling with our serves, I think we missed five," Granado said. "We're still having trouble passing the ball too, but at least we were keeping it on the court today where the setters could run to it."

The Eagles were scheduled to face Fort Hancock in a 10:30 a.m. pool round match today, but Granado said that contest was pushed back to this afternoon due to a scheduling conflict. "I had Kermit playing three matches in a row, so we switched with them," she said. Pecos will play Marfa at 1:50, then take an hour break before facing Fort Hancock at 3:30 p.m. and Kermit at 4:20 p.m.

Pecos' junior varsity team also began pool round play in their bracket of the Cantaloupe Classic this morning against Presidio this morning, and will face Andrews and Odessa Permian at 12 noon and 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, the Eagles' freshman team struggled on Thursday in pool round play for their tournament division, going 0-6 on the evening at the PHS gym. The ninth graders lost to Fort Stockton, 15-13, 15-6; then fell to Wink 15-13, 15-5, and were beaten by Crane's `B' team, 15-11, 15-8. The ninth graders will play again on Saturday in the consolation bracket of their tournament, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Crockett Middle School gym.

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