Lady Panthers dominate

M-CHS volleyball team opens season at home with straight-set win

Abby Engel bumps a serve, as Danielle Waltman stands ready to help out Thursday night at home against Pagosa Springs. The Lady Panthers won in straight sets. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Abby Engel bumps a serve, as Danielle Waltman stands ready to help out Thursday night at home against Pagosa Springs. The Lady Panthers won in straight sets.

Last year, the Lady Panthers played a hard fought four sets in a 2011 season opening home win over 3A Pagosa Springs.

This year?

That wouldn’t be necessary.

Montezuma-Cortez High School hosted Pagosa Springs again in the season opener for both teams Thursday night. But it was all Lady Panthers.

After an easy first set win for M-CHS, the visiting Pirates played close in the second frame.

However, home court prevailed. The Lady Panthers won the second and third sets to take the match, 3-0 (25-12, 25-23, 25-13).

“That second set, a lot of it we needed to try some things in the middle and try some things in our offense. I wanted them to play outside their comfort zone,” M-CHS coach Barbara Chappell said. “When you’re running that quicker offense, you get it or not. They did a really good job. Then we went back to some safer things and they did a good job.”

The 4A Lady Panthers (1-0) took care of business with poise and confidence over Pagosa Springs (0-1).

“It’s always nice to open with Pagosa. They’re usually competitive, but we can work on our offense with them,” Chappell said. “Our passing was amazing last night. I was really pleased.”

Danielle Waltman recorded a match high nine kills for M-CHS. Nickelle Oliver and Laurel Chappell had match highs in blocks (six) and assists (27).

Now, the Lady Panthers will hit the road to play another 3A Intermountain League team. But the competition will be much greater against a superb Bayfield program.

“Bayfield is going to be tough, but these girls have it in them to play well. We have a lot of depth and they can all perform,” coach Chappell said. “I can put anyone anywhere and they can pull it off. It’s nice to know that I can do that.”

One of the greatest assets for the Lady Wolverines is their home environment.

“It’s a home game and their crowd is amazing. It’s always a little distracting for our kids. It will be interesting to see how that affects our girls mentally,” coach Chappell said. “Volleyball is such a momentum game. If you’re not in it mentally, everything can change.”

The Lady Panthers and Lady Wolverines square off Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., in Bayfield.

It is the Lady Wolverines’ season opener.

Beth Brown spikes the ball Thursday night against Pagosa Springs. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Beth Brown spikes the ball Thursday night against Pagosa Springs.

Laurel Chappell sets up her teammates Thursday night on the way to a Lady Panthers win over Pagosa Springs in the opening volleyball game for both teams. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Laurel Chappell sets up her teammates Thursday night on the way to a Lady Panthers win over Pagosa Springs in the opening volleyball game for both teams.