Sailors host regionals

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Lizzie Sack's gut feelings were confirmed while cleaning out her car Sunday afternoon.

She knew if the Steamboat Springs volleyball team took care of business and won a district title, the chances of hosting regionals would be pretty good.

Assistant coach Susie Ritter called Sack and the rest of the Sailors on Sunday to let them know the seeding committee had given them a No. 3 seed and the chance to host one of four regional tournaments that will determine the eight-team state tournament field.

"Deep down I knew we would be back," Sack said.

Before their own fans, on their own court and in their hometown on Saturday, the Sailors (23-1) will play for a trip to the Denver Coliseum on Nov. 8 and 9.

Waiting, however, has been hard. Even coach Wendy Hall is getting a bit anxious.

"I'm so excited to have an opportunity to win a regional," Hall said.

Longmont (15-9), Greeley West (19-5) and Cheyenne Mountain (19-5) will join Steamboat in the Region C pool. The four teams will play each other once, with the top two advancing to the state tournament beginning on Nov. 8.

None of the teams faced each other this season, and all four coaches said they know little, if anything, about the other. The uncertainty doesn't trouble Hall. She said her team is capable of making small adjustments during games if necessary. Besides, a team more caught up in what an opponent does rather than on what it can do usually doesn't fare so well.

"We're focused on our own game," Hall said. "And I think our game is good enough to win this weekend."

Last season, Steamboat fell in a regional tiebreaker, which prevented it from going to the state tournament. The feeling of past disappointment fuels the Sailors to succeed.

The top seven players are seniors, and what they lacked last year in mental toughness and experience they have since gained.

"Sometimes underclassmen think they have next year," senior Allison Griffing said. "It will end if we don't win. We'll leave it out on the floor."

Steamboat opens play at 10:15 a.m. against Cheyenne Mountain. Steamboat's other matches begin at 12:45 p.m. and 3:15 p.m. against Greeley West and Longmont, respectively.

Hall said games would not start earlier than scheduled.

Fans are reminded that local passes will not be accepted Saturday. Cost for adults is $5, while tickets for seniors (over 60) and youths (K-12) are $4. The ticket is good for the entire day.

Hall said it's easy to assume her players feel added pressure to win because there is no next season, but she doesn't see that with her team.

"I used to think there was more pressure, but my experience is that it's an advantage," Hall said. "Because they play like there's no tomorrow."

While fans have grown accustomed to seeing Steamboat beat opponents handilysometimes in less than 30 minutes that likely won't be the case tomorrow. The top 16 teams in the state are left and three are trying to beat the Sailors, but the challenge doesn't bother Sack. She said she's excited to have the opportunity to play some of Colorado's best. After all, to achieve the goal of going to state and doing well, Steamboat has to beat the best.

And to go to state, Longmont, Greeley West and Cheyenne Mountain will have to go through Steamboat.

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