The Steamboat Springs volleyball team has won six other times this season, and according to coach Wendy Hall, it's played at least as well, if not better, than it did Thursday night.
There was no hiding it, however - this one was different for the Sailors. They showed as much from the first point to the last, beating up on U.S. Highway 40-rival Moffat County in three games, 25-9, 25-13, 25-22.
"It felt great because of the rivalry," Steamboat junior Colleen King said. "Last year, we came out really pumped up against them, and we lost. This year, we played a lot better. It showed when we say we're going to do something, we'll do it."
The volleyball rivalry has proven even more heated in recent seasons than the traditional one that separates Steamboat and Craig. The Bulldogs beat the Sailors in Steamboat last year and the two squads have evenly split four matches during the past two years.
King scored the first point of the match with a block, and the Sailors followed suit, letting their aggression out and building an 11-1 lead.
Moffat County could do little in the first game, but rallied early in the second only to again falter, scoring only six more points in the game after earning a 7-3 lead.
"We cause a lot of our own errors. That's our biggest downfall," Bulldogs coach Brianna Montgomery said. "We played with more aggression and had better hitting as the night went on, but we're young in terms of experience and only have one varsity player returning."
Fans from Steamboat (7-1 overall and 3-0 in league) and Moffat County (2-5, 1-2) packed into the gymnasium at Steamboat Springs High School, loud cheers greeting every point. It wasn't until the third game of the heated match that the competition matched the hype.
Moffat County - error-prone and jittery through two games - played much better. The Bulldogs drew to a 13-13 tie after a strong swing and a kill from Ariel Sanchez.
Sanchez led Moffat County throughout the contest, her 15 kills tops among all players.
She again helped spark a Bulldog rally late in the third game. After falling behind 20-14, strong serving from Lauren Roberts and another kill from Sanchez helped cut the score to 23-21.
"Ariel played exceptionally well," Montgomery said. "Steamboat just got us back on our heels a lot. They have a lot of nice swingers, have good blockers and they pass well. They're just a good all around team."
A bad serve and a monster kill from Steamboat junior Devin Wilkinson finally ended the match.
Wilkinson finished the night with eight kills, which tied senior Kacey Bell for the team high.
"We came out so amped up, and we were able to settle it down in the first game. We did a beautiful job with that," Hall said. "That might have put a little doubt in their minds, and any time you do that to a team, that really helps the rest of the night."