Steamboat, Glenwood battle for league lead

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The Steamboat Springs volleyball team picked up three wins over the weekend, including two league victories, setting the stage for Thursday's highly anticipated match against league rival Glenwood Springs.

The Sailors (9-2) and Demons (10-0) are both 4-0 in Western Slope play heading into the 6:30 p.m. match Thursday at Steamboat Springs High School.

Last season, Steamboat defeated Glenwood twice en route to the Western Slope championship. Through four league games this season, the Sailors and Demons have again emerged as the teams to beat in the league.

And Glenwood senior Amber Sutherland has assumed her role as the favorite to take top honors as the Western Slope MVP later this season. The hard swinging outside hitter already has committed to play Division I volleyball at the University of Colorado.

"We can't stop her," Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. "But we have to slow her down."

The Sailors will attempt to make the Demons' star work for her kills with their defense both at net and on the court. Hall and the Steamboat players aren't pleased with the level of volleyball they are playing, especially on offense, but opponents generally have had a difficult time getting balls to hit the floor against the Sailors' defense.

Of the nine games the Sailors won in straight-set match wins against Delta, Fruita-Monument and Palisade on Friday and Saturday, only one game -- against Fruita -- was played well, Steamboat setter Brynn Gotchey said.

"We just did what we had to do to win," she said.

Senior Hannah Gary said the Sailors would not beat top teams such as Glenwood without playing better than they did against league opponents Delta and Palisade.

Hall said Steamboat's 9-2 record is deceiving. Despite sweeping through three matches in straight sets over the weekend, she said the team can play better.

Every starter on the squad is a first-year starter. For the four seniors, Gotchey said, this represents their first and last shot at playing volleyball and making their mark with the Sailors.

Hall said the team continues to grow and is capable of competing with any team in the league.

"They are good enough to beat Glenwood," Hall said. "Defensively, we are at least as good as last year's team, and this year we have several girls that are offensively threatening so defensively it's tough to play us if they all play well."

On Friday, Steamboat defeated Delta, 25-14, 25-22, 25-15. On Saturday, Steamboat beat Fruita, 25-16, 28-26, 25-21, and defeated Palisade, 25-21, 25-22, 25-22.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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