Steamboat volleyball blasts Palisade in 3 games |

Steamboat volleyball blasts Palisade in 3 games

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School volleyball players Devin Wilkinson, left, and Jayde Mattox go up for a block during Saturday's match against Palisade. Steamboat won in three games, 25-21, 25-19 and 25-19.

— Under the eyes of Steamboat Springs High School volleyball coach Wendy Hall, there is always room to improve.

But watching Steamboat cruise through Palisade in three games Saturday had the coach and players feeling like the Sailors finally are finding their groove.

Steamboat, now 9-2 overall and 6-1 in the Western Slope League, had its way with Palisade, easily sweeping the Bulldogs, 25-21, 25-19 and 25-19.

“You never want to say we’re where we need to be because we can always improve on some parts,” Hall said. “But we’re definitely at an eight or a nine this week. It’s absolutely a 10 on how proud I am of the way they played. Can we get better? Yes. Do we have to get better? Absolutely, because everyone is improving as the season goes on.”

It’s tough, however, to imagine that there is a team right now playing better than Steamboat in the Western Slope League.

On the heels of a three-game sweep Friday against Delta, Steamboat came out against an aggressive Palisade team and controlled the tempo from the start.

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The Sailors, who were near perfect passing Friday, carried that momentum over to Saturday.

Steamboat had only three passing errors and 31 perfect passes against Palisade. The Sailors didn’t allowing Bulldogs sophomore Audrey Steinkirchner to get going.

The passing helped set up Steamboat’s hitters and setters to have their way with Palisade. After a sloppy start to the first game, the Sailors started to get it going.

Behind solid serving from Matthia Duryea and Jenna Peters, Steamboat cruised in the first game.

The second game followed suit, as Steamboat was able to expose the middle of the Palisade defense and control the game with its passing.

“We had phenomenal practices last week. We were ready to play,” said Duryea, who was 6 for 6 on her serves. “We’ve been talking a lot about our mental toughness, a lot about how we can’t let the little mistakes get in the way of the game we know how to play. I think we got in their heads. We clicked, and when we click, we play phenomenal volleyball.”

The strong passing led to easy opportunities for Steamboat’s hitters. Seniors Devin Wilkinson and Colleen King led the Sailors with 12 kills apiece. As a team, Steamboat had 34 kills and only 11 hitting errors.

“But it all starts at our passing,” Wilkinson said. “It was incredible” Saturday.

Now the Sailors turn to the second half of their league schedule. Steamboat’s lone loss came in a three-game sweep at the hands of Eagle Valley.

Although the Oct. 17 match with Eagle Valley could help decide the eventual league champion, Hall cautioned that Steamboat isn’t there yet.

“We want to put ourselves in a position to be in the hunt that last week,” she said. “That’s in the back of our minds. In the front of our minds has to be Rifle on Tuesday and, when that’s done, Glenwood on Thursday.”

Steamboat plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Rifle.