Sailors shake Demons

Steamboat ends losing streak in Glenwood win

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— Having lost four consecutive matches over a long week that Steamboat Springs volleyball coach Wendy Hall could only describe as a "train wreck," the Sailors pulled together a league win Thursday night over Glenwood Springs, outlasting the Demons in four games, 25-22, 18-25, 25-20, 25-18.

With a new starting rotation, Steamboat came out passing the ball effectively, and after a pair of kills from Katy Gary, jumped to an early seven-point lead. The Demons responded with back-to-back blocks from Toni Gottschalck and big serves from Chelsea Vallario that the Sailors had trouble receiving and briefly took a 19-17 lead, but were undone by late errors that resulted in a 25-22 Steamboat win.

"It was sloppy at times, but you have to hope that crazy stuff goes your way," Demons coach Scott Nykerk said.

In game two, the "crazy stuff," certainly swung Glenwood's way, as the game in which the Demons tallied the most serving errors was their only victory of the evening. It was also the game they produced their best net play. Kelly Lawson notched four kills to compliment seven from Heather Smyth along with a pair of key blocks from Summer Sherman that helped Glenwood pull away from a tight 18-18 tie.

The Sailors were able to refine their offense enough in game three to beat Glenwood by simply making less mistakes.

"Steamboat fought really hard," Sherman said after the deciding game four, which was a back-and-forth showdown of offensive power where she had three kills. Ultimately, Steamboat displayed a balanced passing game from setter Shannon King distributing the ball to Lizzie Stoll, Gary and Heidi Lord, who closed out the win a final kill.

"We made a lot of mistakes early on, but we came together and turned it around and didn't get down on ourselves," King said, noting how her team had rebounded from the string of losses with a tough week of preparation. "We started off the week with out guaranteed spots in the line-up, so we had to really start competing in practice."

Of the changes Hall said she made after last week, she credited the perfect passing of Kacey Bull and Gary's efforts in stepping into the serve-receiving rotation to initiate the crucial first pass to King. She also noted Erin Gleason's blocking play at the net and Lizzie Stoll's serving performance.

Hall was pleased to see her team, now 4-5 in league, find their competitive swagger and get a much-needed win heading into the second half of their season.

Steamboat plays next at 1 p.m., Saturday in Rifle.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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