Denver Perhaps the only consolation Steamboat had as it walked off the court after a heartbreaking loss to Alamosa in the tie-breaking game at the regional tournament was the thought of next year.
But that didn't keep the five junior players on court from showing their disappointment as Alamosa scored the winning point in a 15-4 game to capture the second place spot in the Region C Tournament at Mullen High School and a trip to state next weekend.
With Alamosa, Mountain View and Steamboat tied with a record of a one-match win and two- match loss at the end of the tournament's regular play, the three teams were forced into a one game tie-breaking playoff.
In the first round, Mountain View faced off with Steamboat and the winner, Steamboat, played against Alamosa to see which team would continue its season at the state tournament.
Coming off the first tie-breaking win to Mountain View, Steamboat gained a 4-2 lead against Alamosa, a team it had beaten 2-1 in the first round of tournament play early that morning.
At the 4-4 mark, Sailor Bayli Stillwell tipped the ball over the net for a side-out, but a Sailors' serve tapped the net and gave the ball back to the Maroons. With that possession, the Maroons gained momentum as they took advantage of Sailors' errors and did not stop until they reached 15 points.
"We missed a crucial serve at 4-4," Sailors coach Wendy Hall said. "We just lost our focus after that."
In the morning, the Sailors dropped their first game to the Maroons 9-15, but pulled together to play what Stillwell called some of the team's best play of the season to win 15-19, 15-11.
"Alamosa is a really good team. It was a big win for us. But the win is only as good as you play the rest of the day," Hall said. "Alamosa deserves to represent their school in (the state) tournament. They played better than us today."
Alamosa's drive grew throughout the tournament as it defeated Mountain View 17-15, 15-8. In its final round of the regular tournament, Alamosa went head to head with Mullen, the tournament winner.
Undefeated through tournament play, Mullen captured first place, beating Alamosa in two games, but not before the Maroons gave the Mustangs a close run in the second game.
Down 14-3, the Maroons fought their way back to 14-13 before a Mustang slammed the ball into the left corner for the win and regional title. As the team that came closest to the Mustangs all day, the Maroons drew on the momentum from their comeback as they headed into their final game with the Sailors.
"If we lost 14-3, we would have given up our momentum there. I'm glad that they played hard," Maroons coach Amy Ortega said.
The Sailors' turning point in the tournament came in the final game in their third match of the day.
Playing Mountain View, if the Sailors would win the game their chances were high at securing the second-place spot. Up 11-7, the Sailors offense was stopped as the Lions worked their way to a 15-11 win feeding off Sailors' long hits and errors.
Dropping the first game 15-6, the Sailors came out strong for the second as Katie Carter killed the ball five times on the game's first six serves. The Sailors' offensive fury did not stop with Carter and Allison Griffing pounding away with 11 kills. The Sailors finished the game 15-3.
"We knew that if we didn't win that could be our last game. We needed to win just to get a chance to play the tiebreaker game to go to state," Stillwell said.
Even with the chance that win gave the Sailors, their loss to Alamosa ended Steamboat's season Saturday night.
But with an entire team of juniors and sophomores, the same Sailors team will all get a second chance at making the state tournament next year.
"It's good in that we're going to get everybody back next year. I hope that these kids are going to show as much improvement between now and next year as they have from last season to this year," Hall said.
"There was not a day that went by that I didn't look forward to going into practice and working with them.
They are really awesome kids," Hall said with tears in her eyes after the Alamosa game.