Sailors psyched for game

Volleyball team hopes to pack gym for showdown with Glenwood

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— None of this tiebreaker stuff, the Steamboat Springs volleyball team wants the Western League title all to itself.

Last year, Steamboat and Glenwood Springs finished tied atop the league standings. The two teams split their regular-season contests, but the Demons beat the Sailors in two games, while Steamboat won in three.

The title went to Glenwood. Steamboat has not forgotten.

Using an offseason workout regimen similar to that of a skier, Steamboat's seniors have increased their strength, their vertical jump and their desire to win.

"All the work we've done has us more confident that we're that much more prepared," Allison Griffing said.

Griffing, teammate Becca Gray and coach Wendy Hall all agreed that it seems unlikely any team could be working harder than Steamboat.

Hall said it's one thing to play well in matches. It's easy to be up for games. Her team doesn't even dog it in practice, which prompted her to give them a much-needed weekend off after tossing Delta and Palisade aside on Oct. 9 and Oct. 10, 15-5, 15-1 and 15-5, 15-2, respectively.

"Their bodies needed a little break," Hall said. "I feel totally comfortable doing it and was really happy to give it to them."

She also has complete confidence in their ability to prepare. In fact, after Tuesday's practice five days before Saturday's second showdown with Glenwood she asked her team if it could remember practicing better.

It couldn't, she said.

"I feel like they're working hard every day," Hall said. "I don't see them losing focus for another month, and that's how long we hope to be playing."

In other words, the Sailors are shooting for the state tournament at the beginning of November. It isn't a secret. It's a frequently talked about season goal, much like going undefeated in league play is.

At 17-1 overall and 11-0 in the league, Steamboat has the chance to accomplish the second goal Saturday afternoon against its biggest nemesis. The Demons have one loss in league play to Steamboat on Sept. 26. They play Palisade Thursday night.

In the Sept. 26 win, Hall said she tinkered with her rotation to find a player to challenge Glenwood's Amber Sutherland at the net. Hall said Bayli Stillwell responded with crucial blocks in the decisive third game to give the Sailors the victory.

Outside hitter Katie Carter assisted on offense with 17 kills.

To win again this Saturday, Hall said her team must defend Sutherland, the tips and pass well on serve receive.

"They will try to serve us off the floor," Hall said. "That's their game."

It will be the final regular-season home game for the Sailors and could be the final time the seven girls will play in the high school gym pending results at districts.

Hall has coached at Steamboat for the past 13 years. She feels blessed to work with and watch this team.

The Steamboat squad wants to pack the gym in honor of the seniors to serve as a send-off of sorts into the postseason. With a league title on the line, against a formidable opponent, Saturday's 1:30 p.m. match at the high school figures to be worth the price of admission.

"It's the first step to our big goal," Gray said.

Considering the seven seniors have taken almost no days off between last spring and now, it seems like a small feat to ask fans to take off one Saturday afternoon.

"There's a lot of people in town that haven't seen them play," Hall said. "It doesn't happen every day that a team like this comes along."

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