Powderkeg volleyball tournament a hit

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— A trio of baseball players, gloves in hand, arrived at the Howelsen Hill baseball fields to find lines of volleyball nets in the outfields Saturday.

The Steamboat Powderkeg tournament kicked off Friday, and while some baseball players looking to take a little batting practice were likely rejected, hundreds of volleyball players bathed in sweat and sunscreen were having a blast on the grass and sand courts.

Originally created by Red Cunningham 21 years ago, the Powderkeg is now run by The Island out of Denver and has been for the past three years.

The popularity of the tournament around 250 teams are registered forces organizers to turn the outfields at Howelsen Hill's fields into make-shift grass courts, which is much appreciated by the tournament participants.

Linda Hager has been playing against Heidi Knapp for roughly 10 years, according to Knapp. They are both from Denver and are avid doubles players. Hager plays in all the mountain tournaments and has been coming to Steamboat for at least eight years, she said.

The Powderkeg is one of her favorites.

"This is fun because it's mellow," Hager said prior to taking the court against Knapp. "It's lower key. It's a great place to be this weekend."

Hager and partner Deja Trojan, clad in matching Precious shirts, warmed up briefly. Knapp and partner Mary Babe did not. Knapp and Babe went on to win, 15-11.

The laid-back attitude Hager spoke of was evident. Her Saturday afternoon match was self-officiated, the first serve was determined by the sophisticated rock, scissors, paper method and each team exchanged compliments on well-placed hits and serves.

Knapp, like Hager, enjoys coming to Steamboat's tournament for more than the volleyball. She is camping during the tournament and plans on hiking while in town. Guaranteed at least a ninth and tenth match after defeating Hager and Trojan, Knapp and Babe will need plenty of rest after a Saturday filled with games.

"It's all social," she said. "We're all friends."

Saturday's list of events was long. Eight different divisions, four for each gender, completed pool play in the morning before switching to double elimination matches in the afternoon. Knapp, Babe, Hager and Trojan were two teams from the 12-team Women's AA field. Every group, except for the Men's Open division, played on grass courts. The Men's Open players competed on Howelsen' sand courts.

Steamboat's Powderkeg volleyball tournament wraps up today with co-ed play at Howelsen.

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