Eyes ahead for Sailors volleyball team | SteamboatToday.com

Eyes ahead for Sailors volleyball team

Steamboat coach Wendy Hall watches over a practice Tuesday. The Sailors travel Saturday to play in the regional volleyball tournament in Pueblo.
Joel Reichenberger

Regional volleyball schedule

Matches start at 10 a.m. at Pueblo West High School

No. 10 Pueblo West vs. No. 27 Longmont

No. 15 Steamboat Springs vs. Longmont

Pueblo West vs. Steamboat Springs

— The Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team ran through practice with enthusiasm and energy Tuesday afternoon. If an air of “what could have been” lingered with the team, it was covered well.

The squad was upset Friday in its second-to-last regular season match, falling in five sets to Palisade and, in the process, losing a share of the Western Slope League championship and what likely would have been the honor of playing host to one of 12 Class 4A volleyball regionals.

The loss bounced Steamboat from what it had presumed was the No. 12 overall seed to No. 15 and instead of a pair of matches at home Saturday, the squad will hit the road to play at Pueblo West, the No. 10 seed, and against Longmont, slotted in at No. 27 in the 36-team field.

Maybe that sticks with Steamboat, but the resounding message Tuesday was, “We will make the most of it.”

“That was the difference between playing at home and traveling to Pueblo, but you know what, I don’t care if we travel to South America at this point,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “We have an opportunity to get ourselves to the state tournament and it’s a good opportunity.”

Hall, as of Tuesday, knew exactly as much about Pueblo West as a good Google session can turn up.

The Cyclones are 17-6, a game worse than Steamboat’s 18-4, and no, that fact is not lost upon the Sailors.

To be fair, Pueblo West filed a terrific season and utterly dominated the five other schools in the South Central league, running a perfect 10-0 through that league while losing just two sets.

It lost its first two matches of the season and its last three, but half of its six losses came against Class 5A competition and those 4A losses came against three of the top four seeded teams.

The Cyclones’ roster showed five players taller than 5-foot-10 compared to Steamboat’s one.

Longmont, on the other hand, finished the season 11-12, but it was solid in the Northern league, going 8-4 for a third place finish. It finished the season winning two of its last eight matches

Steamboat and Longmont don’t have any common opponents. Steamboat and Pueblo West have one, Montrose, which beat both teams handily.

“We play better as underdogs,” Steamboat senior Taylor Harrington said. “We’ll give everyone a surprise. We bounced back pretty well (from Palisade) and we’re focused this week going into regionals.”

Steamboat answered the loss to Palisade with a win Saturday against a team that, on paper, posed a bigger threat, beating Delta in four sets, so maybe that helped assuage Friday’s disappointment.

Whatever the case, Tuesday the Sailors said they were looking ahead, not behind.

“We will go out, have fun and show everyone why we’re there,” Harrington said. “We can win it. If we play our top game, communicate, we can definitely win it.”

Saturday’s action starts at 10 a.m. at Pueblo West High School. Battle Mountain is the only Western Slope team hosting a regional. The Huskies were seeded ninth. Eagle Valley, No. 13, and Delta, No. 26, also made the field.

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