Sailors squash Huskies

Volleyball team led by Stillwell's eight kills

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— Though it seems like it would be a fun thing to do, Bayli Stillwell shook her head vigorously when asked if the Steamboat Springs volleyball team guesses how long it will be out on the court.

The Sailors don't predict scores either.

Saturday's 15-6, 15-2 victory over Battle Mountain took roughly 40 minutes. It takes nearly 50 minutes to cook a pan of lasagna at 375 degrees. Ten minutes longer after removing the aluminum foil.

"With teams like Battle Mountain we should keep them on the defensive," Stillwell said.

In other words, the plan was to keep the serve away from the Huskies and pepper their side with spikes from every point on the net.

Mission accomplished.

Led by Stillwell's eight kills, Steamboat's fearsome front line gathered a total of 21. Katie Carter had five, Abby Fritz had four, Allison Griffing had three and Lizzie Sack had one.

"I thought we did awesome," Stillwell said. "Our passing allowed our hitters to put it away."

Setter Becca Gray recorded 20 assists. Coach Wendy Hall said she was pleased with Gray's decisions on where to go with the sets all night.

In most matches, that spot is Carter high and to the outside.

Battle Mountain coach Elizabeth Nilsson said the Huskies' defense prepared for Carter all week, but the Sailors' most consistent hitter in Thursday's match was Stillwell.

Hall said most teams, particularly ones at the bottom end of the league, aren't prepared for Stillwell.

Stillwell plays behind the setter, opposite the outside hitters on the right side, in a position commonly called the weakside. When a hitter is right-handed, weakside is an appropriate term because the spiker has to reach across her body to hit crosscourt.

Not Stillwell. She's a lefty. With authority, she can take whacks crosscourt all night.

"I hardly ever get the pleasure of having a lefty on the right side," Hall said.

With Carter and Fritz on the outside, and Stillwell, at 6-foot, on the opposite side, Steamboat features two strong side hitters with Griffing and Sack in the middle.

"Teams aren't used to defending against that," Hall said.

It showed.

The closest Battle Mountain ever really was to Steamboat was at the beginning whistle. In both games, the Sailors used one strong surge behind the service line to distance themselves from the Huskies.

In Game 1, Griffing put Steamboat ahead 8-2 with five solid serves. She closed it out with two more. In Game 2, senior Val Finch extended the Sailors 2-1 lead with six straight serves. She never had the chance to return.

"It's not that their serves are tough," Nilsson said. "But once they get them in control they know where to place them."

Which is precisely why they are tough.

Hall said Griffing is as good as they come with regards to serve placement. She's like a good baseball pitcher and Hall's the catcher.

"I can call a spot and she'll hit it," the coach said.

In Thursday's earlier matches, Steamboat's freshmen defeated Battle Mountain 15-0, 15-12, while the JV made quick work of the Huskies, 15-0, 15-6.

No. 3 Steamboat (14-1 overall, 8-0 in league play) hits the road for three matches before returning home for the final regular season match of the year against Glenwood Springs at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 19.

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