Sailor spikers ready to battle Huskies

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— For the first time in two weeks, the Sailors volleyball team is back in action and ready to put the spike down on the Huskies of Battle Mountain.
Steamboat, 11-1 and 5-1, played its last match on Sept. 23, when the team defeated Delta High School at home. The Sailors now begin the second half of their season, which includes Battle Mountain today and Palisade Saturday.
The Sailors were relieved to have the long layoff, which gave the players sufficient time to nurse some aches and pains they had from earlier this season. But Steamboat coach Wendy Hall knows layoffs can sometimes work against a team.
"I think for sure we got healthy," Hall said. "We had a couple of injuries, mild injuries. And I think they healed up. So that was good.
"But, I'm always concerned when you take that much time off, though. It really helps to have competition at least once a week. And so to have that week off makes me a little nervous."
The Sailors may be a bit rusty from the break in their game, but the team is sure to be high on emotions as it partakes in its school's homecoming festivities this week.
Battle Mountain, 3-7 and 1-5, will have to muster some serious offense on Thursday, if it hopes to derail Steamboat at home. Hall was optimistic about her team's workouts this week.
"We've had good practices this week, and the kids, I think, have been really focused," she said. "I think they're really ready to play, so that's probably a positive."
The Sailors may enter the match with the adrenaline in their favor, but the festivities that coincide with homecoming could work as a disadvantage, Hall said.
"I think that there's so many distractions out there that it makes it difficult for them to make sure that their primary focus is the volleyball matches this week," she said.
Another concern about the match, Hall said, is that Sailors coaches know little about the Huskies.
"I don't know much about them," Hall said. "From what I hear, they have a tall middle and they like to run a quick attack in the middle quite often.
"They haven't been, I think, doing really well in this league. But, I think they've been competing with everybody they've been playing."
Hall has been working with her team mainly on defense for the past two weeks, including special attention to the back row, and on making more blocks. Hall figures defense is the key for the remainder of the season, including during an Oct. 12 showdown against Rifle. The Bears are 11-2 and 7-0 in the conference.
Against Palisade on Saturday, Steamboat hopes to rely on the play of outside hitter Jessica Johnson, who had a big day against the Bulldogs Sept. 21. Johnson finished with 14 kills and three blocks.
The Sailors face Battle Mountain at 6 p.m. today at home. Gametime for the Palisade match is set for 1 p.m. at home.

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

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