Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team's season came to an end Saturday at the District 8 volleyball tournament in Montrose.
Steamboat lost, 3-1, to Montezuma-Cortez and 3-0 to Mullen in pool play.
The 18-25, 25-17, 25-21 and 25-17 loss to Montezuma-Cortez proved to be the deal-breaker.
To advance to next weekend's regional tournament, Steamboat had to finish top two in its pool and win a cross-bracket match.
Mullen, which was ranked No. 2 Class 4A, easily dispatched Steamboat, 25-12, 25-12 and 25-6.
"Losing aside (Saturday), I just had a fun season with these girls," Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. "I think they feel the same way. We'll always have some wonderful memories."
Steamboat started the day out strong. The Sailors beat the Panthers, 25-18, in the first game and looked like they were primed for a big day.
But Montezuma-Cortez got a big break in the second game. With the Panthers holding a 19-18 lead in the second game, a controversial call in Montezuma-Cortez's favor gave the Panthers a 20-18 lead.
"It was a critical point there," Hall said. "We came out with a stroke of bad luck."
The Panthers cruised from there, and Steamboat was up against it with Mullen.
The Mustangs easily put away the Sailors in three games.
"I think they're going to make a run at the title," Hall said about Mullen. "I haven't seen every team in the state, but they are definitely a state contender. I've seen a lot of 4A volleyball, and there is no reason they shouldn't be playing for the gold ball in two weeks."
Although there was obvious disappointment for the Sailors, who finished 15-6 overall on the season, Hall said when she thinks about this senior class and this team, only good memories pop up.
"What defines it to me is it was such a family unit," she said. "I feel like they made strong bonds with each other. Not just over the last three or four months, but the last three or four years.
"It's an incredible bond. They created friendships that will go the distance regardless of where they go from here. I really feel like they will have these friendships for a long, long time. That's the gift they walk away with."