Steamboat Springs Last weekend, members of the Sailors volleyball team sat in the Denver Coliseum watching teams they had beaten this season play in the state tournament.
"We wanted to go down there and play so bad," Sailors spiker Katie Carter said. "Watching teams we had close games with, we just wanted to play them again."
Though the disappointment of narrowly missing the state tournament still lingers in the Sailors' voices, the hope remains that next year they'll do more than watch the state tournament.
And for a team that is returning all of its starters, that possibility is good.
Even though Steamboat missed out on a trip to state by dropping a 15-4 game in a tie-breaking match to Alamosa at regionals, they still received high honors.
Out of the Sailors' all-junior starting lineup, five received league kudos with middle blocker Carter leading the team as the league's most valuable player. Throughout the season, Carter dominated the league in kills and blocks.
Carter's MVP status, which is decided by league coaches, was hard earned, as she beat out tough contenders, including Glenwood hitting power Amber Sutherland, who led her team to the state tournament.
"Out of all the girls in our league, it was definitely an honor to get (MVP). I was definitely surprised," Carter said.
Outside hitters Abby Fritz and Allison Griffing also received all-conference honors. Fritz and Griffing typically followed Carter in kills during games throughout the season.
Setter Rebecca Gray and defensive specialist Valerie Finch received honorable mention. Gray led the team in assists and Finch was instrumental in the backcourt with key digs and serves.
The only two starters who did not make all league honors suffered injuries during the season. Opposite hitter Bayli Stillwell was out for almost a month with a sprained ankle and middle blocker Lizzie Sack also missed a portion of league play with an injured foot.
"To have three juniors (as all-conference), especially when other coaches vote on it, that's something special," Carter said.
The Sailors finished the season 8-2 in the league and as co-champions of the Western Slope.
However, a third place in the regional playoffs halted their season Nov. 3. Mullen, which beat Steamboat 2-0, and Alamosa, the team that Steamboat beat in the first round of the regional
tournament and then lost to in a tie-breaking game to determine a state tournament berth, both continued on to the state tournament last week.
Mullen and Montezuma-Cortez, which beat Steamboat for the district title, finished third and fourth in the state. Lewis-Palmer out of the Metro League took the state championship title beating Fort Morgan in two games.