Sailors volleyball ready for regionals |

Sailors volleyball ready for regionals

Tournament begins Saturday at Montrose

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School volleyball players Devin Wilkinson, No. 7, and Jayde Mattox, No. 10, go up for a block during their Oct. 3 game against Palisade. Steamboat opens the District 8 tournament at about 9:15 a.m. Saturday in Montrose.

— As fair or unfair as the District 8 seeding might be, that’s the farthest thing from Steamboat Springs volleyball players’ minds.

Steamboat has an opportunity to keep its season alive Saturday when the team joins Montrose, Mullen, Palisade, Montezuma-Cortez and Pueblo East in the district tournament at Montrose High School.

Steamboat, Mullen and Montezuma-Cortez will be in one pool, with the other three teams in the other.

Although Montrose and Mullen play Class 5A schedules before dropping down to 4A, Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said her team couldn’t focus on things outside its power.

“I don’t want to whine and complain over it,” Hall said. “That’s not going to help us. We just got to deal with what hand we got dealt and see if we can go match up. We’ve got to turn it into a positive.”

Steamboat will play at about 9:15 a.m. Saturday against Montezuma-Cortez before playing Mullen directly after.

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Steamboat must finish second in its pool to advance to the cross bracket. The winner of Pool A then plays the second-place team in Pool B and vice versa.

“We’ve had to go play the same setup before,” senior Colleen King said. “We’re used to going and having to play these tougher teams. This week at practice, the focus is to give it all we have. We have to go out and do everything we can. We don’t want this to end.”

To make the regional volleyball tournament, Steamboat must finish in the top two at the district tournament.

Although that’s tough, especially with Mullen, Palisade and Montrose in its district, Steamboat should be considered a strong contender to move on.

The Sailors went 15-4 during the regular season. Although the team struggled a little down the stretch – going 1-2 in its last three – the confidence of a team that at one point won seven in a row is still there.

“I like the energy. I like the focus,” Hall said. “Like I’ve been saying all along, this team bounces back. This team comes back. That goes back to the relationships between the players.”

The key for Steamboat will be to get out of pool play. Assuming the seeds go as planned, Steamboat would play Montrose or Palisade in the cross-bracket portion.

Steamboat hasn’t seen Montrose but split its regular season matchups with Palisade this season.

The other key might be the test of Steamboat’s mental toughness.

The Sailors potentially could play four matches Saturday.

Because the tournament is on one day, the most physically and mentally fit team fares best.

“We’re really trying to focus on our mentality,” King said. “We want to keep our mental game strong. We’ve lacked team excitement and the connection we had. But we’ve all brought a lot of intensity to practice this week.”

District 8 seeds

No. 1 Montrose

No. 2 Mullen

No. 3 Steamboat

No. 4 Palisade

No. 5 Montezuma-Cortez

No. 6 Pueblo East

If you go

What: District 8 volleyball tournament

Where: Montrose High School

When: Matches start at 8 a.m. Saturday