Steamboat Springs There will be no hiding in the District 8 volleyball tournament.
Considering the top four teams - Montrose, Regis, Moffat County and Steamboat - all come in with at least 12 wins, the district might be the toughest in Class 4A.
With only two spots into the regional tournament at stake - and probably four deserving teams - Saturday's tournament in Montrose is sure to see some intriguing matches.
"Everybody needs to be playing at their best this time of year," Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. "I firmly believe if we're playing at our best we can beat the teams necessary to move on."
The district tournament is set up with two, three-team pools. The top two teams advance from pool play to the cross-bracketing portion of the tournament. The two teams to make it out of the cross-bracketing section advance to the regional tournament.
Steamboat opens up play Saturday against No. 6 seed Falcon. The team will play No. 1 seed Montrose directly after that in pool play. Regis, Moffat County and Palisade make up the other pool.
Montrose and Regis drop down from Class 5A to play in the district.
"Well, what makes it even tougher for us is we haven't seen these schools play," Regis coach Laura Dunston said. "I am going based on records, but I honestly don't know how tough everybody is."
Regis, who won 15 games during the year in the tough 5A Continental League, is probably the biggest unknown.
None of the other teams in the district have a common opponent with Regis - the No. 6-ranked team in Class 4A.
"Obviously, Regis is a good team," Hall said. "But I'm actually glad we're in the same pool as Montrose because they are kind of the unknown, as well. We get the chance to play them in pool play, instead of a do-or-die match in the semifinals."
Steamboat comes into the tournament having won six matches in a row, and eight of nine.
Steamboat split games with Moffat County this year and swept Palisade.
Hall said she's confident with the way the team is playing, especially since the Sailors haven't had a real setback all year.
"After Battle Mountain, we realized our potential," Hall said. "I think that really pushed our confidence up a notch, and we've really been playing with that confidence. Mentally, we are where we need to be."
One worry for Hall - besides the unknown teams - might be the schedule. If Steamboat makes it to regionals, the team will have to play four consecutive matches.
That's certainly tough for a team that's used to playing one game a day, Hall said.
"It might be the survival of the fittest on Saturday," Hall said. "It's too bad, though. Your season's on the line, and you work all year for this day, and they push it into a small amount of time. In my opinion, it doesn't need to be rushed."
Nevertheless, Hall said the Sailors have as good a chance as anybody come Saturday, especially considering how balanced and senior-oriented Steamboat is.
"I think we have a really nice opportunity," Hall said. "I just hope we take that opportunity and run with it."
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