Steamboat Springs High School senior Kacey Bull spikes the ball during the team's Saturday match against Palisade High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Kacey Bull spikes the ball during the team's Saturday match against Palisade High School.

Sailors volleyball wins in 5 games

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— Steamboat Springs High School senior volleyball player Kacey Bull wasn't going to let a speeding ticket on her way to the game get her down.

Fellow seniors Sara Williams and Maggie Kriz weren't going to let an early two-game deficit ruin senior day.

And the rest of the Steamboat players weren't going to let a brief rough spot in the season upend any of the team's momentum heading into the regional tournament.

So even when Palisade took a 2-0 lead and looked ready to put away Steamboat, the Sailors showed some toughness, ripping off three straight wins to walk away with a 16-25, 19-25, 25-21, 25-23, 15-13 win.

"At some point in that third game, they realized we had to do something different," Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. "After losing the second game, I told them, 'We have three seniors playing their last game in this gym (Saturday). If that doesn't inspire you, I don't know what does. Let's win one for these girls.' Maybe it just shifted their focus a little. Got (their) minds off themselves and figured they'd do it for each other."

It was really like there were two different Steamboat teams on the court Saturday. In the first two games, Steamboat could never seize momentum and couldn't get in any type of rhythm.

In the first game, Steamboat had five kills and seven errors. In the second game, the team had six kills and four errors.

But trailing, 12-8, in the third game, something happened. The smiles came back on the players' faces, and the Sailors started to turn the tide. Steamboat started to find that momentum and closed out the game on a hot streak.

A big part of the success came from finding room in the middle to hit. With the Bulldogs' blockers having to respect Sailors setter Colleen King's hitting ability, the middle became wide open. Led by Devin Wilkinson and Kriz, Steamboat cruised in the third and fourth games.

In the fifth and deciding game, the two teams traded point after point. Knotted at 13, a Palisade service error gave Steamboat a 14-13 lead. King blocked the next Bulldogs attempt to give the Sailors a much needed win.

Now, Steamboat's focus turns to the regional tournament next week. Although Hall wasn't totally sure when and where Steamboat would play - she guessed at Eagle Valley - she said Saturday's win was the best thing that could happen to the Sailors.

"I think it's critical," Hall said. "In fact, I think it gives us a really good chance next week as opposed to probably not much of a chance. We knew we were the four seed no matter what. But we're coming off something that we haven't done in a long time. Coming back in a five-setter is very uplifting."

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