Steamboat Springs junior Colleen King rockets a shot over the net during volleyball practice Tuesday afternoon inside the high school gym. King, along with other veteran players such as Kasey Bull and Maggie Kriz, are expected to lead the charge for the Sailors this year on the court.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs junior Colleen King rockets a shot over the net during volleyball practice Tuesday afternoon inside the high school gym. King, along with other veteran players such as Kasey Bull and Maggie Kriz, are expected to lead the charge for the Sailors this year on the court.

Uncertain league

Teams across Western Slope in process of rebuilding

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2008 SSHS volleyball schedule

Friday and Saturday at Glenwood Tournament, TBA

Sept. 6 vs. Summit, 1 p.m.

Sept. 11 vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 13 at Rifle, 1 p.m.

Sept. 18 vs. Moffat County, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 20 at Battle Mountain quad play, TBA

Sept. 26 at Delta, 6:30 p.m.

Sept. 27 at Palisade, 1 p.m.

Oct. 2 at Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 4 vs. Rifle, 1 p.m.

Oct. 7 at Moffat County, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 11 at Moffat County quad play, TBA

Oct. 17 vs. Delta, 6:30 p.m.

Oct. 18 vs. Palisade, 1 p.m.

— Steamboat Springs High School volleyball coach Wendy Hall usually has her finger on the pulse of the Western Slope League.

But in a year where teams across the league lost numerous starters, the veteran coach admits she is not quite sure what is out there.

That's not necessarily a bad thing.

"It's a lot more fun," Hall said before Tuesday's practice. "You feel like you're in total control of your destiny. You're taking care of what you have control over. I think the winning is going to come with this team."

The Sailors certainly have a different look this year. Gone are five seniors from last year's team that lost in the district playoffs.

Steamboat returns starters Maggie Kriz, Kacey Bull and Colleen King. King, an all-league setter last year, will be expected to lead along with hitters Kriz and Bull.

If this team is to take a step toward the top of the league, it might be its defense that leads the way.

"I definitely think they have the work ethic and desire to be wonderful on defense," Hall said. "There's excitement on defense."

That doesn't mean Steamboat doesn't have offensive potential. Bull moves from solely playing in the back row last year to playing in most situations this year. King, who will again serve as the main setter, also will be used as an attacker to take advantage of her rocket left hand.

"We'll certainly have some girls that can get up and spike a ball," Hall said. "We'll have some girls that can get up and block a ball."

With the league wide open - league champion Battle Mountain lost several starters, as did second-place team Moffat County - Steamboat is bunched up with four or five teams and has a legitimate shot to win a league title.

"I don't want to speak too soon," King said, "but the goal is to finish at the top of the league."

After struggling in a scrimmage Saturday, Hall said she's seen the girls already improve during the course of the week. It will be that improvement that determines how far the Sailors can go this year.

"We really want to get first in our division," Kriz said. "We want to make it to state if we can. We need to keep working as a team because I feel our team chemistry is good this year."

Although the team still may be in a feeling out process, Hall remained confident that by the end of the year Steamboat will be in the thick of things.

"Anybody that wants to come watch these girls play, they're going to be an exciting and fun group to watch play," Hall said. "You'll enjoy their enthusiasm. They have a really good chemistry on the floor and it will be obvious. You'll be able to see that when you watch them play."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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