Sailors embraces role of underdog as team hits the road for regional volleyball tournament | SteamboatToday.com

Sailors embraces role of underdog as team hits the road for regional volleyball tournament

Steamboat Springs' Micah Feeley celebrates after Steamboat defeated Summit earlier this season. Feeley was one of 29 Steamboat Springs athletes that were honored as part of this year's academic all-state team. The girls volleyball and girls cross county teams also earned academic all-state team honors.

— The course to the state title game was set Monday afternoon, and the first stop for the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team will be Broomfield where the Sailors will face No. 7 Holy Family and No. 18 Pueblo Centennial in the Region 7 tournament.

“We just want to go out and play our best,” head coach Wendy Hall said. “If we play our best then we will just let the cards fall were they are going to fall.”

Steamboat will begin what it hopes will be an upset bid at 1 p.m. Friday against the host school, Holy Family, in the opening game of the regional tournament. Steamboat is then scheduled to face Pueblo Centennial at 3 p.m. in the tournament’s second match. Pueblo Centennial and Holy Family will then play at 5 p.m. in the final match of pool play.

“Nobody is expecting anything from us,” senior Raya Duryea said before a team meeting Monday afternoon. “So we an just play without any expectations…We can just play our hearts out and maybe show them something they don’t expect — I think our seed may actually be a very positive thing.

The Sailors will enter the tournament with the 30th seed, but if Steamboat can come out on top of the pool, it will earn a bid to the 2016 state tournament, which will take place at the Denver Coliseum the following week.

Hall was a little r by the Sailors seeding, and feels the the new RPI system that is being used the the state may still need some fine tuning, after two teams the Sailors swept this season, Summit and Glenwood, were both ranked higher than the Sailors.

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“That’s a little upsetting, but with an 11-12 record this season I also feel like we are right where we should be,” Hall said.

“I think we have beaten everybody that we are supposed to beat, I don’t think anybody has upset up this season…We have won the one that were are supposed to win. Unfortunatley we couldn’t quite put it together to knock off a Battle Mountain or a Palisade or even an Eagle Valley. But I feel really good about our progress this year and I feel like this team has show tremendous growth from back in early September until now. I think the hard work is paying off and now we need to go prove that this week. We need to go put the hard work to test on Friday.

The Holy Catholic Tigers will be the top-seeded team in the pool after finishing the season with a 19-4 overall record and as Tri Valley League champions with a 12-2 record. The Tigers are in the midst of a six-game winning streak with the team's last loss coming to Roosevelt the first week of October.

The Sailors will also face Pueblo Centennial, a team that finished in a tie for second in the South Central League with a 6-4 record. The team was 16-7 overall this season and has won its last two matches.

Steamboat will be the underdog at this year's tournament but is hoping to build on some of the success it found in October when the Sailors mounted a three-game win streak against teams from Moffat County, Summit and Glenwood Springs. Summit, a team Steamboat beat twice this month, earned the No. 28 seed in the tournament.

The Steamboat team dropped tough matches against Palisade, seeded No. 12, and against Eagle Valley, seeded No. 2 in the regular season, before finishing the regular season on a winning note with a 3-0 victory over Rifle.

Both Eagle Valley and Palisade will host regional tournaments this weekend.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966