Tuesday, September 5, 2000
Steamboat Springs Following Tuesday night's loss to the Rifle Bears, Sailors setter Maggie McElhinney was at a loss for words as she walked into the locker room with her head hung low.
The normally intense senior had left all of her energy on the court in a playoff-caliber game and was noticeably disappointed with the outcome. Forget the fact this is only September and there is still a lot of volleyball left to be played before the playoffs this was Rifle.
"I'm at a loss for words right now," McElhinney said. "We are a lot tougher than this. If we had played up to our potential, we could have had it."
But Steamboat didn't get it and ended up losing the match and falling to 4-1 on the season.
Despite losing the contest, the Sailors showed a great deal of character by battling through two hard-fought games. Unfortunately, the Sailors came up short both times.
In the first game, the Sailors watched a 10-5 advantage slip away and finally lost the contest 16-14.
In the second game, the Bears built a 6-1 lead before the Sailors climbed back into the game. But once again, the local team came up just short, losing 15-12 to a hard-hitting Bears squad.
"I would be worried if they were not disappointed," Sailors coach Wendy Hall said. "It's always disappointing to lose, but I was not disappointed in the way our team played. I'm very proud of this team because they never gave up."
Jessica Johnson led the Sailors with 12 kills in the match. Jessica Fritz added eight and Katie Carter had five. McElhinney collected 21 assists in the game.
Steamboat's young sophomores may still be a little green, but they proved they had the mental toughness to hang with a more experienced Rifle team. The evidence was at the service line where Carter was 16-for-16 and Bayli Stillwell was
But it was Rifle's big hitters that dominated the match. Outside hitter Lisa Samuelson had 15 kills and three blocked shots. The Bears other outside hitter also had a big night. Marilyn Samson had nine kills and one blocked shot.
"We really haven't gone up against a team with hitters like this," sophomore Abby Fritz said. "We are a very young team and a few of us still need to learn some things. The good thing is that we will get another shot at these guys and we will be better the next time."
Bears coach Beth Sass said her team got off to a slow start in the match with the Sailors, but she didn't panic or even say anything to her players.
"I didn't have to," Sass said. "The kids just turned it around on their own."
Sass said the rivalry between the Sailors and Bears has grown into one of the best matchups in the state, and she expects a close contest every time the two teams meet.
"I have a great deal of respect for coach Hall, and she always has her players up for a good match," Sass said. "We got this one and we will just have to see what happens the next time."
But Steamboat is done with Rifle for the time being; Hall said her job is to get her players focused on the team's next big challenge a road trip to Delta on Friday and Glenwood Springs on Saturday.
"They are both real good teams, so we will need to pick things back up," Hall said. "This team has a lot of character and I don't expect it to be a problem."
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org