Sailors battle Bulldogs for first

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— The Sailors volleyball team has taken care of the bottom of the Western Slope League. Now they get the top.

Steamboat Springs, ranked third in the state in Class 4A, whipped Delta 15-0, 15-7 Friday night to move to 9-1 overall and 4-0 in league play. Delta is winless in league play. It is the Sailors' second consecutive win over a winless league opponent. Last weekend, Steamboat downed Rifle 15-0, 15-5.

Today, Steamboat gets rival Palisade, which is also unbeaten in league play and 6-3 overall.

The Bulldogs have beaten the Sailors on Steamboat's home court each of the past two years.

"I think we are right where we want to be," said senior Katie Carter, who had six kills Friday night to pace the Sailors. "We haven't beaten Palisade in two years at home, but I think we are playing well right now, and we will be ready for them."

Sailors coach Wendy Hall agreed with her UCLA-bound hitter. Hall said the Sailors have had two good matches in a row, avoiding mistakes and playing aggressively.

"Tonight was a real good match for us," Hall said. "We came out on fire and didn't let up. We got a little sloppy in the second game. But overall, I'm happy with the way we're playing right now."

The first game of Friday's match really was no contest. Delta managed only three serves during the game.

Steamboat jumped out to a 7-0 lead with Valerie Finch serving six of the points. Delta got a chance to serve when Carter hit a ball long. But Carter quickly forced another sideout with a vicious kill. She then served out the game for the Sailors.

For the most part, Delta couldn't handle Carter's jump serves, failing to return six of them. Bayli Stillwell had kills for the other two points during the run.

In game two, Steamboat trailed 1-0 and led only 5-4 before getting its game together. With Stillwell serving, the Sailors went up 10-4 on a run that featured two kills by Lizzie Sack. The Sailors gave up three points on unforced errors that brought the Panthers within four at 11-7.

But the Panthers rally did not last. Carter had a kill to put the Sailors up 12-7, and then Rebecca Gray's ace made it 13-7. After two sideouts, Steamboat scored a point on a net error by Delta. Stillwell finished off the Panthers by faking a kill and dropping a soft hit over the outstretched arms of two Delta blockers.

Stillwell and Allison Griffing had four kills each for the Sailors. Sack had two kills.

The win sets up today's 1:30 p.m. battle for league supremacy.

"Palisade has been our nemesis for the last two years," Hall said. "They are good and they won't be intimidated. We're going to have to be mentally ready."

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