Sailors volleyball prepares for Battle Mountain

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— The Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team has its most important game of the season, at least so far, tonight on its home court.

After winning an emotionally draining, five-set, come-from-behind match against rival Moffat County on Saturday, Steamboat gears up for its next - and biggest - challenge of the young season against No. 4 Battle Mountain at 6:30 p.m.

Last year, Battle Mountain lost just one game en route to a Class 4A state championship.

While the core of their team may have graduated, the Huskies return several players that saw substantial playing time last year.

Couple that with the confident attitude that winning brings, and Steamboat head coach Wendy Hall said Battle Mountain is clearly one of the best teams in the league and the state.

"They know what it feels like to win and that's the tradition there now," Hall said. "That's stuff you can't buy. I'm expecting nothing less than a team that's really put together."

The Sailors stand 3-3 overall and 1-0 in the league.

After losing for the first time in more than a decade at Moffat County last year, Steamboat entered the hostile territory again and got a little payback.

Especially valuable to Hall was the way the Sailors won.

The Sailors trailed two games to one, before winning the last two games to put the Bulldogs away.

"We stuck together. I'm really proud they were still able to come away with a win even thought they weren't as sharp," Hall said. "It was definitely good that we came away with a victory."

Today's game should give a better picture of the bunched up Western Slope League.

In addition to Battle Moun-tain, Moffat County and Palisade also return teams poised to break out.

And with a win today, Steamboat can climb back into Western Slope League contention.

"One league victory isn't enough to put us in that category," Hall said, noting she encourages people to come out and watch a new brand of Steamboat volleyball. "Playing well is what you need to focus on. It's not necessarily the outcome, but playing hard together and passing like we have the last few matches. I think then people will be excited to see us play."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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