Steamboat Springs After sitting out the opening weekend of the season, the members of the Steamboat Springs Volleyball team will be hoping to make up for lost time over the next several days.
Steamboat will face Moffat County on Thursday, before boarding a bus and heading to Fort Morgan for one of the biggest tournaments of the regular season. The varsity teams will play at 7 p.m. in Craig. The junior varsity teams will square off at 5:45 p.m. and the freshmen are scheduled to take the court at 4:30 p.m.
It will be the first match of the season for the Sailors, but the Bulldogs already have four matches under their belt.
Sailors coach Wendy Hall feels the late start, and being forced to open the season with a league match, will pay off down the road for her team.
"We felt like playing in the Fort Morgan tournament was very important," Hall said. "We will get a chance to see some of the Front Range's best teams and gain some exposure at the same time."
The downside is that the tournament falls in the second week of the season, which means Steamboat wasn't able to play last weekend.
"There is going to be a lot of excitement surrounding this game," Hall said of the season-opener against Moffat County. "Our players are ready to get going and they want to play against another team."
Steamboat and Moffat County faced off in a scrimmage earlier in this season when the Bulldogs were still trying to adjust to a new coach and the loss of last year's standout Amber Sanchez.
Hall said the Moffat team seemed a little out of step but she isn't expecting the same outcome when the two teams meet this week.
"They have a new coach and I think their players were still trying to learn the new system," Hall said. "But we played them two weeks ago and they've had a lot of time to get it together. I'm expecting a very competitive match. They've got a lot more game experience than us right now. They have the advantage."
Hall said the Sailors would also be grappling with the loss of middle blocker Allison Griffing, who will miss the opening weekend because of illness.
The rest of the starting lineup, however, is healthy and ready to go. Seniors Abby Fritz and Katie Carter will provide the power on the outside, Rebecca Gray will handle the setting duties and Bayli Stillwell should give the Bulldogs a handful on the opposite side. Lizzie Sack will handle the duties in the middle and Hall said Valerie Finch is expected to come off the bench as a defensive specialist.