Thursday, January 12, 2006
Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Lauren Marias has played club volleyball for three winters. She believes in its benefits.
"It makes a huge difference," said Marias, who played sparingly for the Sailors' varsity team during the fall. "You notice the girls that play club and those that don't."
The Steamboat Volleyball Club still is in its infancy. It has existed for a couple of years, and the interest in it is obvious.
On Thursday night, two teams worked out in the Christian Heritage School gymnasium. Another had the night off because of finals.
The teams include a 14-and-younger group and a 17-and-younger squad. The latter looks a lot like Steamboat's varsity team from the fall. The core group of girls from that team is playing club volleyball to get a head start on next season.
"It's helped us with hitting -- all of us," Marias said. "Everything, in general. The skills get better because you are doing it all the time."
Jamie Jones is coaching the 17-and-younger team, and she put the players through a round of drills early in Thursday's practice. Con--tinued skill development is a focus for all three teams, but the older girls are expected to take their game to the next level this winter.
"We are running a quicker, faster-paced offense," Jones said. "That's the main difference between them and the younger girls."
Steamboat will play in the Rocky Mountain Region, which has about 3,000 teams. Club volleyball has grown in popularity, most notably along the Front Range, where most of Steamboat's tournaments will be held.
The 17-and-younger team will play a busy schedule that includes a Jan. 22 seeding tournament, which will determine whom and where they play for the rest of the season.
Each team has no more than eight players, allowing for more work and individual coaching. Jenn Jones and Jenn Paoli are coaching the 15-and-younger and 14-and-younger teams, respectively.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org