Defensive fight ends in defeat, Steamboat falls in five sets to Palisade |

Defensive fight ends in defeat, Steamboat falls in five sets to Palisade

Senior libero Katelyn Kline takes the ball off a serve against Palisade on Friday, Oct. 12 at Steamboat Springs High School. (Photo by Leah Vann)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Volleyball doesn’t seem tiring, until there’s a one minute rally at the end of the second set. Balls are slammed back and forth, the back row players slide and roll to get back up, while the front row jumps at every hit.

During this rally, which put Steamboat Springs High School (10-7, 6-3) back in contention with Palisade (11-4, 7-2) at 26-26, senior Katelyn Kline had three consecutive digs, senior defensive specialist Kari Saunders had the next and senior setter Abi Berlet took the next beating, digging three straight tips.

Although the Bulldogs prevailed in that set, it best displayed a defensive fight that people only seem to witness when sets get close.

What kept the Sailors in the game was a relentless scrambling for the ball, something volleyball teams call being, “scrappy.” But Palisade emerged victorious late in the fifth set, claiming its spot atop the Western Slope League, 25-21, 29-27, 20-25, 23-25, 16-14.

The Bulldogs took the first set 25-21, then the second, 29-27.

The transition from defense to offense starts with that back row, without them, the exhilarating slam of a kill wouldn’t be possible.

Kline, the libero, stayed the deepest of the back row. She slid to either side to pick up a deep corner or line shot, while also being the go-to passer off serve receive, as captain of the defense, and the last line of defense before a ball goes out.

Steamboat volleyball

Aug. 23: vs. Moffat County, W 25-11, 25-10, 25-16
Aug. 31 at Alamosa, L 21-25, 25-21, 15-17.
Aug. 31 at Peak to Peak, W 25-15, 25-8
Sept. 1 at Coal Ridge, L 25-18, 18-25, 11-15
Sept. 1 at Littleton, W 25-16, 25-20
Sept. 8: at Classical Academy, L 25-19, 18-25, 12-15
Sept. 8: Coronado, L 27-29, 22-25
Sept. 8: Mullen High School, L 22-25, 20-25
Sept. 8: Mountain View, W 20-25, 25-15, 25-12
Sept. 13: vs. Eagle Valley, L 18-25, 27-25, 25-14, 20-25, 13-15
Sept. 15: vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 21: at Palisade, W 19-25, 25-17, 25-23, 25-8
Sept. 22: at Rifle, W 25-13, 25-12, 25-20
Sept. 25: vs. Battle Mountain, W 25-16, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23.
Sept. 27: at Summit W 27-29, 25-13, 22-25, 25-21, 15-13
Oct. 4: at Eagle Valley L 18-25, 25-18, 12-25, 24-26
Oct. 6: at Glenwood Springs W 25-23, 25-22, 25-22
Oct. 12: vs. Palisade L 21-25, 27-29, 25-20, 25-23, 14-16
Oct. 13: vs. Rifle, W 25-17, 25-20, 25-8
Oct. 16: at Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: vs. Summit, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 20: vs. Grand Junction, 6:30 p.m.

Junior Lauren Ehrlich played shallow to the net, picking up the quick tips that escape over the blocks. She was quick on her feet and low to the ground.  Saunders also picked up the short balls, or sharp-angle hits. It’s not ideal for Berlet to pick up the first ball, as the setter, but when she did, Saunders stepped in to deliver a set to the outside.

Chemistry is what solidifies a back line. Without careful communication, balls can slide in between two players, untouched. Since the entire court is in front of the back line, they can see when a close ball might go out

The front-line blocking game aided the Sailors in the third set, where they came back from a 12-3 deficit to tie it up 11-11 before taking an overwhelming lead.

Senior Avery Harrington had a hand on every hit that crossed the net. Kline continued to stand her ground, coming up short for a tip and backing up for a deep hit on two consecutive hits by the Bulldogs.

It was enough to baffle the Bulldogs, forcing them to send desperate tips over the net, putting the Sailors ahead 20-13.

At 24-15, the Bulldogs started to gain momentum, going on a 5-0 run to make it 24-20. But junior AnnMarie Hackworthy put them to rest on a deep kill out of middle, sending it to a fourth set, 25-20.

The Sailors carried that momentum to take the fourth set, 25-23, but they lost that momentum late in the fifth set.

Up 9-5, the Sailors seemed in control, but the Bulldogs made a run to narrow the deficit 9-8 before a Sailors timeout.

The Bulldogs tied it up 9-9, then claimed a lead 11-9. The Sailors tied up the game on a pass-kill by Ehrlich, a kill by Anna Allsberry and a missed serve by the Bulldogs 14-14. But a pair of kills left the Sailors scrambling to the floor and the Bulldogs won it 16-14.

Senior defensive specialist Lauren Ehrlich digs a tip against Palisade on Friday, Oct. 12 at Steamboat Springs High School.

To reach Leah Vann, call 970-871-4253, email or follow her on Twitter @LVann_Sports.

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