Sailors rout Delta Panthers; improve to 11-1

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— Trailing 0-3 in the first game of their match against Delta High School, the Steamboat Sailors volleyball team put the heat on the Panthers, and rolled to an easy two-game win at home.
Outside hitter Jessica Johnson tallied eight kills on the afternoon, and finished 7-7 serving, to help put her Sailors at 11-1 on the season. Katie Carter made two blocks for Steamboat and produced a 16-16 serving effort, as the Sailors improved to 5-1 in the conference.
The Sailors started sluggish against the Panthers, finding themselves tied 6-6 in the first game of the match, before they scored on nine consecutive points. The first game ended 15-6 in favor of Steamboat, and the team never looked back as it finished off Delta 15-6 in the second game.
Outside hitters Abby Fritz and Jessica Fritz had three kills each for the Sailors, and setter Maggie McElhiney went 6-6 in serves. Bayli Stillwell had two blocks for the team.
For the Panthers, Stacy Perkins finished with five kills, followed by teammate Jessica Clayton who had four kills.
The win for the Sailors was their second in two days. On Thursday, the team traveled to Palisade, where it ousted the Bulldogs 15-5 and 15-13. Johnson was on fire against Palisade, racking up 14 kills and three blocks, making her presence known in Grand Junction.
Abby Fritz also had three blocks at Palisade.
Johnson was happy with her team's performance against Delta, but says the team needs work heading into the second half of the season. Steamboat has two weeks off, before facing Battle Mountain High School at home on Oct. 5.
The long rest presents a good opportunity for Sailors players to nurse some minor injuries, according to coach Wendy Hall.
Hall said the Sailors looked forward to the break, after having a rough week of practice.
"We had the electricity go off on us one night and had to cancel," Hall said. "And we had an injury another night that threw us off.
"It was really not a good week of practice. And to get out of this week with a couple of victories, it's sort of a sigh-of-relief win for me."
The Sailors, despite a bad week of practice, continue to dismantle opponents with a strong offensive attack. If the team has any weakness this year, it may be the defensive play, says Hall.
"We have the ability to just light it up, and get a run of points," Hall said. "But, I just think that defensively, if we can have that (same) kind of ignition, we will have the whole package."
Johnson, whose name reads "J-Dog" on a banner inside the Sailors' gymnasium, talked about her team's fifth-straight victory.
"I think that we needed to pick it up on defense, and then we had some great defensive plays and started picking it up on offense," Johnson said. "But overall, our heads, I felt, kind of weren't into it. None of us were giving it our all. I mean, we still won, and that's what we need, but looking down the road, we're going to play teams that are going to be tougher."
Steamboat's match against Battle Mountains is set for 6 p.m. on Oct. 5. Meanwhile, Delta tries to regroup when it plays Glenwood Springs later this week.
Panthers coach Katie Meek says that her squad will be more prepared when it takes on the Demons.
"We've got the ability, we've got the talent," Meek said. "It's just about staying focused and being ready to play."

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

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