Steamboat Springs For the first time in a month, Steamboat had its full-fledged team on the volleyball court and it showed as it overtook Rifle in two games of 15-8 Saturday night.
With the return of middle blocker Lizzie Sack, the 16-1 Sailors overcame some tough Bears' blocking to take their league rival for the second time this year.
With the ankle injury of Bayli Stillwell a month ago and another ankle injury by Sack one week ago, the team had been missing some of its crucial blocking and hitting power. Last Friday, Stillwell returned to the floor and Sacked followed Saturday night to bring the season's starting team back to the court.
"It's the first game in three or four weeks that all of us played together, and we have such good chemistry," Stillwell said.
Eight proved to be the magic number as the Sailors struggled point for point with the Bears until they reached the eight-point mark when they put the game away and did not let the Bears back into the game.
"We didn't play that bad," Bears coach Victoria Rose said. "(Steamboat) picked it up and knew what to do. I give them credit."
In the first game, the Bears fought their way back from a 7-3 deficit to make things even at 7. The Sailors pulled ahead one point to gain an 8-7 lead, but then battled through eight side outs before Stillwell slammed the ball deep in the left corner to give the Sailors the 9-7 edge.
Sailors defensive specialist Valerie Finch then stepped to the line to serve the Sailors six straight points to cap off the victory.
"Overall, I thought we played really, really solid," Sailors coach Wendy Hall said.
For their last home game of the season, Hall said, the Sailors were able to get past the game's tight spots.
"I was kind of hoping to see that more and more, to get over the hump and push their way to a win."
The second game saw that execution again as the Sailors began with a shaky start down 0-4. With a Finch ace, the Sailors were able to tie it 4-4 and take the lead for the rest of the game.
At the10-8 mark, Stillwell once again killed the ball to give the Sailors a side out, which is all they need to finish off the win.
This time Allison Griffing stepped to the line to serve the Sailors five straight points. Katie Carter ensured the win for the Sailors as she hammered the ball deep into the Bears' court for the 15th point.
Once again, Carter led the team with kills finishing the night off with seven. Abby Fritz and Stillwell followed with four and Griffing contributed with three.
Coming off an injury, the Sailors saw strong blocking from Sack, who topped the team with three.
The Sailors next game is at Moffat County on Thursday and they will finish their regular season as the play for the league title Saturday against Glenwood Springs.
"Every win is now bigger than the last won," Hall said.
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