The Steamboat Springs High School girls volleyball team will open its season Friday at the Glenwood Springs High School tournament. This year's varsity team features 10 seniors.

Photo by Matt Stensland

The Steamboat Springs High School girls volleyball team will open its season Friday at the Glenwood Springs High School tournament. This year's varsity team features 10 seniors.

Steamboat girls volleyball opens season with eye on WSL title

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Sailors volleyball readies for season

Steamboat Springs High School's girls volleyball team jumps into action Friday. The Sailors scrimmaged last weekend. Check out the highlights here.

Steamboat Springs High School's girls volleyball team jumps into action Friday. The Sailors scrimmaged last weekend. Check out the highlights here.

Sailors on tv18

Watch Steamboat Springs High School volleyball's scrimmage against Hayden High School at 8 p.m. today on tv18.

Catch a replay of Steamboat Springs High School football against Holy Family at 8 p.m. Thursday on tv18.

Season schedule

5 p.m., Friday at Glenwood Springs Tournament (1 game)

9 a.m., Saturday at Glenwood Springs Tournament (3 games)

6:30 p.m., Sept. 17 at Glenwood Springs

1 p.m., Sept. 19 vs. Rifle

6:30 p.m., Sept. 24 at Moffat County

4:30 p.m., Sept. 26 at Battle Mountain quad vs. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley

6:30 p.m., Oct. 2 vs. Delta

1 p.m., Oct. 3 vs. Palisade

6 p.m., Oct. 6 at Rifle

6:30 p.m., Oct. 8 vs. Glenwood Springs

1:30 p.m., Oct. 10 at Summit

6:30 p.m., Oct 15 vs. Moffat County

TBA, Oct. 17 host quad meet vs. Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley

6:30 p.m., Oct. 23 at Delta

1 p.m., Oct. 24 at Palisade

TBA, Oct. 30 at district tournament

— Ask Steamboat Springs High School coach Wendy Hall how the Western Slope League volleyball race is shaping up, and the teams tumble off her tongue.

Eagle Valley is always a good team, with several key players back.

Battle Mountain is always tough but has a new coach.

Palisade just continually gets better, and Delta is always salty and tough.

Her own team, though?

"It's hard to set goals when you're kind of at far less than full-strength," Hall said. "Hopefully we can get back to full strength early in the season. We're a couple weeks from our first league game. If we can see the light at the end of the tunnel by then, I really feel we can make a run at the league title."

Bottom line, Hall said, is so can just about every other team in the league. Just as last season proved to be a wide-open race, this season has the same flavor.

For Steamboat, though, it may very well come down to how soon the Sailors can get healthy. Mainly, how quickly can senior Colleen King return from mononucleosis? King - who has committed to play for the University of Denver - returns as the league's player of the year.

"I think she's doing everything she can to get back on track," Hall said. "She hasn't missed a practice and still comes and cheers on her teammates. But Colleen makes everyone better. Not only are her skills a huge asset to our team, but everyone plays better with her."

King's not the only asset, however. Steamboat features 10 seniors on the varsity squad, including returning starters Devin Wilkinson and Matthia Duryea.

Wilkinson led the team in kills last year from her middle blocker position, and Duryea is expected again to slot into the libero position.

"It would be incredible to win a league title," Wilkinson said. "I think we just have to have the determination, but also the understanding that we can do it."

Hall said at this juncture in the season, the Sailors aren't where they need to be. She said the keys will be to get better ball control and remain patient.

Steamboat doesn't have the big outside hitters like some teams, and Hall said a trademark of the team has to become its scrappiness.

"We need to figure out our ball control," King said. "We can have really good plays, but we need to figure out ball control - our serve and receive."

While King's injury has hurt the team in the early going, it's also given backup setter Jenna Peters a chance to work with the first team. Hall said the team will play a modified 6-2 at times - a formation where typical setter King will play as a hitter. This could potentially create mismatches down the road.

Regardless, while the team isn't where Hall would like, she knows with this group of 10 seniors, the Sailors eventually will be where she wants them.

How soon remains the biggest question.

"I couldn't be luckier with this team," she said. "There is the potential to push these kids. They'll stay together no matter how hard I push them. I can put a lot of pressure on them."

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