Sailors fall to Mustangs as postseason comes to an end

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— After an emotional comeback victory against Fort Morgan at the Denver Coliseum Friday, the Steamboat Springs volleyball team had its postseason come to an end as it lost a rematch to the Mustangs on Saturday.
The Sailors, who went 24-6 on the season, pulled off a thrilling upset of the No. 1-seeded Mustangs on the first day of the Class 4A tournament. Jessica Fritz and Jessica Johnson led Steamboat back from a 9-3 deficit during the third game, in which the Sailors won 17-15.
Johnson had a season-high 33 kills in the match and Fritz drove home 22 for the third-seeded Sailors. Steamboat won the match 13-15, 15-13, 17-15.
The Sailors went 1-1 Friday as they lost to the Berthoud Spartans in an earlier match.
Berthoud, which was led by Amy Corder, won the 4A state title. Corder had 17 kills in the championship match against Lewis-Palmer.
Steamboat ended its postseason in somewhat of a bizarre fashion. The team lost to Summit on Saturday, which put the Sailors in a three-way tie with Summit and Fort Morgan for second place in pool two.
That forced the victorious Sailors into a one-game tie-breaker with the Tigers, which Steamboat easily won 15-7.
But the Sailors had to face the Mustangs again to decide which team would make the semifinals. The Sailors and Mustangs also played a one-game tie-breaker.
Steamboat quickly fell behind 9-3 but battled back to grab a 10-9 lead.
Katie Carter served for four straight points while Johnson nailed four spikes during the seven-point run.
Steamboat could not finish the deed, though, as Fort Morgan made some key digs that contributed to a 15-10 Mustangs win.
Fort Morgan was led by Jessica Hammerick and Angie Kauffman, who teamed up for eight kills.
Lewis-Palmer defeated Fort Morgan in the semifinals 15-4, 15-5.
Steamboat coach Wendy Hall described the tie-breaker with Fort Morgan as a fantastic match.
Hall was more upset that the Sailors lost to the Tigers, who were defeated by the Mustangs earlier in the tournament.
If Steamboat would have defeated Summit in its first match Saturday, the team would have played Lewis-Palmer in the semifinals.
The Sailors gave a valiant effort, though, after falling behind to the Mustangs in the tie-breaker, Hall said. The team's resurgence came immediately after a timeout.
"They sure enough went back in and battled," Hall said. "But (Fort) Morgan just came back with some huge plays."
Maggie McElhinney, who played her final match as a Sailor, was a driving force behind Steamboat's near comeback Saturday.
"We came back in it the same way (as Friday), but they just pulled out some tricks that we hadn't seen that just beat us," McElhinney said. "I'm not upset at how we played, I'm just really sad that it's over, being a senior and never playing again."

To reach Eric Rineer call 871-4229 or e-mail erineer@amigo.net

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