Searching for motivation, longtime Steamboat Springs volleyball coach Wendy Hall pulled out trusty Pat Riley.
His book, "The Winner Within," is one of her favorites, and she found a passage that may have helped propel Steamboat to an impressive 25-23, 25-23, 25-21 win against Glenwood Springs on Tuesday.
The word "comeback" stuck out, and Hall has adopted the same word as a motto for the rest of the Sailors' season, as they go through the league a second time.
Steamboat is 3-0 against league opponents it has faced twice, but no win meant more for the Sailors than the one against the Demons on Tuesday. The Demons have been the salt in the Sailors' wound for more than a year, always finding ways to win whether at home or on the road.
On Tuesday, however, Steamboat responded to Hall's challenges on how to play Glenwood and slow middle-blocker Leah Hinkey.
Hinkey finished with 16 kills, but she did not overpower the Sailors.
"We aren't going to shut Leah down," Hall said. "I thought if we could get a few blocks and dig her, it would take a little momentum away. ... We had to play well defensively."
Steamboat's precise serve receive and timely digs allowed it to dictate the tempo. Sophomore Katie Mills finished with 17 kills. Senior Kristyn Bradbury had 14 kills. Setter Tara King finished with five.
"You can't have a couple people on the floor trying to lead," King said. "Everyone has to pick it up."
Steamboat jumped out to a 10-5 lead in Game 1 before Glenwood slowly worked its way back into it before finally taking the lead at 20-19 off a Hinkey kill. The Sailors regained the lead at 23-22 off an Erin Gleason hit that the Demons had trouble handling. Bradbury ended the game on a crosscourt attack.
Game 2 also was fairly even. Each team gained a small lead before the other would string together several points to tie things up. The difference in the second game was the play of Steamboat sophomore Breanne Murray and senior Danielle Tredway from behind the service line and junior Missy Chotvacs on the floor. The trio helped give the Sailors a 21-15 lead.
A Hinkey solo block and kill helped the Demons close the gap, narrowing as much as a seven-point deficit to 23-20. The Sailors, however, held on for the 25-23 win.
The third game wasn't even close -- at least not at the beginning. Steamboat took the lead at 4-3 and didn't look back until it was 21-9. Three straight Hinkey kills and three straight hitting errors from the Sailors had the Demons coming back, 21-16. Two Mills kills and two missed serves from Glenwood, including one on match point, was just enough for Steamboat to take the win.
The Demons played without starting middle blocker Leanna Lawson, who sat out for disciplinary reasons, coach Denise Greene said. She juggled the lineup, which had an effect on her team, but she credited the Sailors for finding ways to win.
"We didn't play badly," she said. "The breaks didn't go our way. ... Their defense was good. They hustle. They scramble. They are going to do all they can do to get the ball."
"We were really pumped up," defensive specialist Tredway said. "I think we knew we were going to win."
Steamboat improves to 9-4 overall and 7-3 in the league. Glenwood drops to 12-3 overall and 7-3 with the loss, but the Sailors hold the tiebreaker because they defeated the Demons in three games. Glenwood beat Steamboat in four Sept. 18.
Steamboat's next match is at 6 p.m. Thursday against Eagle Valley in Gypsum.