Steamboat Springs junior Kailee Duryea receives the ball while junior Molly Dierdorff looks on at the Sailors volleyball practice Thursday afternoon. The Sailors hosted a scrimmage with the Hayden Tigers at the end of the practice. Steamboat will head to Eagle Valley and Hayden will go to Rangely this weekend for district tournaments.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs junior Kailee Duryea receives the ball while junior Molly Dierdorff looks on at the Sailors volleyball practice Thursday afternoon. The Sailors hosted a scrimmage with the Hayden Tigers at the end of the practice. Steamboat will head to Eagle Valley and Hayden will go to Rangely this weekend for district tournaments.

Steamboat volleyball opens district pool play Saturday

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Class 4A District 7 volleyball teams

Pool 1

No. 1 Eagle Valley

No. 4 Glenwood Springs

No. 6 Summit County

Pool 2

No. 2 Montezuma-Cortez

No. 3 Steamboat Springs

No. 5 Palmer Ridge

— With postseason play set to begin this weekend, there’s one lingering — albeit important — question for the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team.

Which Sailors team will show up?

The one that two weeks ago dismantled Moffat County in three games and had seemingly started to play its best volleyball of the season, or the one that was beat by league cellar dweller Battle Mountain last Saturday?

“I think after Saturday, like (coach) Wendy (Hall) said, we were not as sure of ourselves as when we played Craig,” junior Addie Sulentich said. “Now, we’ve had several good practices and we’re building our confidence again.”

Steamboat opens up the Class 4A District 7 volleyball tournament Saturday in Eagle Valley.

The district tournament features two pools of three teams.

The top two teams from each pool make the semifinals. From there, the top team from Pool 1 plays the second place team from Pool 2, and vice versa.

Steamboat, the third seed, opens pool play at 9:30 a.m. Saturday against No. 5 Palmer Ridge and plays again at 11 a.m. against No. 2 Montezu­ma-Cortez.

Hall said Wednesday that after a disappointing weekend, she challenged her players this week in practice.

She knows how well the team can play, but she also knows that it can hit devastating lulls.

“I came in on Monday and said, ‘How hard do you guys want to work? I want full commitment right now. I don’t want to realize on Saturday that you guys were ready for this thing to be over,’” Hall said. “If that’s the way you feel, do us a favor and excuse yourself from this team. You’re either all in or not in at all.”

Key to the Sailors will be getting off to a good start in the opening game against Palmer Ridge. When things start off well for this Steamboat team, they usually finish well.

The Bears finished the season 9-10 overall.

“It doesn’t really matter how they play, it’s how we play,” senior Kayleigh Es­­swein said. “But if we don’t start the day well, it’s an uphill battle to where we want to be.”

Should the Sailors advance out of pool play, the team is likely to face a Western Slope foe in either Eagle Valley or Glenwood Springs.

Steamboat lost its two matches to Eagle this season and split with Glenwood.

“It’s a do or die, it really is,” Hall said. “There are not a lot of situations in volleyball where if you win you go on for another week and if you lose you go home. But that’s what that semifinal is.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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