Beach play on a stormy day

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— Rain delays dampened Day 1 of the Steamboat Doubles Volleyball tournament Saturday afternoon for almost all of its 600 participants. With the outfield grass courts on the Howelsen Hill softball fields empty and players seeking shelter from the downfall, the action was on the sand courts.

The double-elimination bracketed tournament of 24 men's and 16 women's teams began Saturday as shirtless athletes dove for balls on wet sand as though it were a sunny day at the beach.

"There's excellent, top-level competition here from out of town. Look around, we're the short guys here," said Mike Pillow, a 6-foot, 4-inch, 29-year-old sand division competitor who came from Westminster for the weekend tournament. Although Pillow said the wet conditions affect the speed of the game, competitors Saturday were working hard to advance to the next round and giving a skillful showing for the crowd of rained-out fellow athletes.

Tournament director Tom Davenport agreed that the sand division provides the best opportunity for viewing elite play.

"You've got 24 of the best teams in Colorado, teams from Utah, California. There's not a single bad team out here," Davenport said.

Davenport, who has directed the tournament for the past five years, said that because of the number of games to be played, he could not determine the time for today's championship game. He said the division finals likely would happen between 3 and 5 p.m. today at Howelsen Hill.

-- To reach Dave Shively, call 846-1129

or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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