Rifle Call it Intimidation 101, and the Rifle volleyball team got front row and back row seats for Steamboat Springs' free lesson.
The third-ranked Sailors demonstrated how to serve, block, dig, attack and dominate, beating the Bears 15-1, 15-2 in 25 minutes Saturday afternoon in Rifle.
Dating back to the Sept. 12 victory against Battle Mountain, Steamboat has reeled off nine straight wins to improve to 15-1 overall and 9-0 in league play. The only match that went three games during that span was against Glenwood Springs ranked No. 5 in Class 4A at the time.
It isn't just the wins that coach Wendy Hall is so pleased with. The Sailors' focus and quality of play on the volleyball court is at
an unprecedented level. She said she sees it in her players' eyes.
And if Hall can see it, it's a safe bet opponents staring into those same eyes at the net can see it, too.
"They haven't taken anyone lightly," Hall said. "They show up and expect their best game every day. That, to me, is intimidating."
But senior Abby Fritz said it isn't about a final score. It's about seniors seeking perfection now and a state tournament berth later.
"The thought in my mind as a senior is it's my last time for everything," Fritz said. "(Saturday) was the last time I'll play in the Rifle High School gym, and you don't want to have regrets."
Judging by Steamboat's play against Rifle, Fritz apparently speaks for the team. The Sailors recorded 20 kills and just three errors in 33 total attacks. Katie Carter had a game-high nine kills. Bayli Stillwell had six. Allison Griffing had four and Lizzie Sack had one. Setter Becca Gray had 16 assists.
Rifle received the opening serve in Game 1 and promptly scored the first point, bringing the bench to its feet. It was the only point the Bears scored, as Steamboat, behind Gray's 14 points from the service line, went on to defeat Rifle in seven minutes.
Game 2 took a little longer but ended with a similar score.
After the match, however, both Hall and Fritz touched on the several serves Steamboat missed in the second game as opportunities a better opponent might have capitalized on.
Fritz said every match, particularly those against weaker opponents, is viewed as a practice. If the Sailors become complacent and miss an occasional serve or give up points to a bad team, they could wind up in dangerous territory against a good one.
"We're on the same page," Hall said. "We expect close to perfection. They're good enough that we shouldn't make mistakes."
The Sailors continue on their road to a league title with back-to-back contests at Delta on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and at Palisade on Thursday at 7 p.m.