Sailors volleyball preps for WSL opener

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What: Steamboat at Glenwood Springs volleyball

When: 6:30 p.m. today

Where: Glenwood Springs High School

— It's been 12 long days since the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team last played a match.

That isn't necessarily a good or a bad thing heading into a 6:30 p.m. match today at Glenwood Springs. The game is the Western Slope League opener for both teams.

Although coach Wendy Hall might have liked to get another game in against real competition, the break also coincided with a bout of sickness running through the Sailors locker room.

Several players battled flu-like symptoms last week. The time off allowed healing time for Steamboat players, including reigning league player of the year Colleen King, who has been battling mononucleosis. King participated in a full practice for the first time Tuesday and deemed herself between 80 and 90 percent ready for today's game.

"That obviously makes us better, but other kids, too, have taken the opportunity to get better the last two weeks," Hall said. "Now we need to see it when we get people on the other side of the net."

In a league race that appears to be wide open, Glenwood and Steamboat look like two of the key players.

The Sailors, 3-1 overall, last played the Demons in the Demon Invitational Volleyball Tournament earlier in the month, falling 19-17 in a tiebreaking championship match.

Although that loss has little bearing on today's showdown, it's still fresh in the minds of the Sailors.

"We've been keeping the Glenwood game in our heads the whole time we've been practicing," senior Jayde Mattox said. "I think we've got a lot accomplished and got stronger as a team. The key is to have confidence and not be nervous. We have to have the confidence to know we can win. If we play our best we can beat them."

The key might be the defense. Hall said the past couple of weeks, the focus has been shoring up the back row and making use of a small but athletic front row.

As the league opener for both schools, Hall said today's game won't determine the eventual champion, but will go a long way in setting precedent for a Steamboat team with a league championship in its sights.

"In order to be in the running for the league title in the last couple of weeks you can't let one get away that you should of won," she said. "You have to win every match that you should and when you go against your strongest competitors you have to give yourself a chance to win.

"Confidence is a big part of volleyball. It's believing you're going to win."

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