Front Range players enjoy Steamboat volleyball tourney | SteamboatToday.com

Front Range players enjoy Steamboat volleyball tourney

Austin Colbert

Tess Rogers

— Boulder acupuncturist Christina Shao and Denver teacher Meghan Barkman have known each other for years, but often found themselves on opposite sides of the volleyball court. Then, a few years ago, Barkman went to Shao for an acupuncture appointment and brought up the idea of them playing together as a doubles team.

"I was telling her, 'I've always wanted to have an opportunity to play with you,'" Barkman said. "It's just such a great feeling to know that all your hard work and time working together has just paid off. We've definitely had an up-and-down season — it's been nice to come out and finish like this.”

The duo, both in their mid 30s, won the women's open sand division of the Steamboat Doubles Volleyball Tournament on Sunday at the Howelsen Hill sand volleyball courts in Steamboat Springs. The tournament, in its 34th year, started Friday and featured 19 divisions and more than 500 doubles teams.

Shao and Barkman had to win two matches Saturday and three more Sunday, including their 2-1 victory over Tanya Bond and Tess Rogers in the championship match.

"We just played hard and we played every point and we fought," Shao said. "It was a great win for us, for sure."

The majority of the players, like Shao and Barkman, come from the Front Range. While the Denver area has many parks and elite-level indoor courts, Steamboat proved to be a unique challenge with its thin air and picturesque backdrop.

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"These mountain towns are great vacations. These tournaments are awesome," said Broomfield's Bryce Walsh. "The towns are so fun to explore. I love the Hot Air Balloon Rodeo and the other rodeo that goes on at the same time every weekend. It's always clear. It's like a screensaver every morning."

Walsh, 28, teamed up with 38-year-old Parker resident Kevin Mollman to win the men's open sand division on Sunday, the tournament's afternoon finale. It wasn't easy, as the duo lost early in the day Saturday and had to battle back — playing in a total of eight matches — and push through for their first "mountain town" title as a pair.

"It's great. Steamboat is my favorite town. It's just a long day," Mollman said. "It felt great. My partner was cramping the last couple of matches. Just happy to get a win."

"We had a lot of battling. Health was fading," Walsh added. "Kevin picked us up. He had all the energy in the world. Kept me up the whole match. He was awesome."

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