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Regaining their focus

Sailors volleyball coach hopes team can keep up its intensity at tourney

— Forget the records; forget what happened last year or even what happened last weekend. From here on out, the only thing that really matters to the members of the Sailors volleyball team is surviving until the next playoff round.

But to survive, the Sailors will need a top finish this Saturday at the Region C tournament hosted at Mullen High School in Denver.

“I feel really confident about this week,” Sailors head coach Wendy Hall said. “We played at the highest level I’ve seen all year last weekend. Now we just have to maintain that intensity.”

The Sailors’ drive for a state title opened last weekend at a difficult district tournament in Cortez and will not get any easier this week for the Sailors, who finished second in their first postseason test, this weekend in Denver.

If Steamboat wants to make it to the next round, the local team will need to place second in a pool that includes such perennial powerhouses as Alamosa and Mullen, who are ranked first and second this weekend. Steamboat will have the No. 3 seed (which is determined by a preset bracket rather than records), and a relatively new school, Mountain View, will round out the field.

“Those schools (Mullen and Alamosa) have a great tradition of producing winning teams,” Hall said. “I’m sure they are going to be tough, but at this level all the teams are tough. There are no weak teams left.”

Steamboat will open Saturday’s event against Alamosa (15-5-0) at 9 a.m. The team will move on to face Mullen (14-8) at 12:45 p.m. and wrap up the day with a 2 p.m. match against the Skyline league’s Mountain View (17-6).

Hall said she expects the other teams at the regional to be strong, but this week in practice she plans to work out her own team’s demons.

The coach will ask her players to focus on improving the weaknesses in their own game this week and in the process hopes to make the Sailors a stronger contender overall.

“I felt like we lost our focus against Glenwood a couple of weeks ago,” Hall said. “So the following week we opened practice with a team meeting and the players discussed weaknesses and things they felt like we needed to improve on during the week. It seemed to bring us together, so I think I will take the same approach this week.”

After more than 10 years as a head coach, Hall has learned what it takes to make it to state and to be successful there. She also knows good teams will take advantage of every mistake and a single error could be the difference in advancing to the next level or calling it a season.

“We played toe to toe with Montezuma-Cortez (the No. 2-ranked team in the state) last weekend, but we made three errors in a row and that was it. Our defense played well enough to beat them, but we made too many mistakes offensively.”

Last week, Steamboat was in a position to advance when the errors hit the team, but this week it may be a different story.

“Going 2-1 at the regional is not a guarantee you will make it to state,” Hall said. “If we want to make it to state, we are going to need to beat everybody.”

Two other district teams will advance to the regional level this Saturday. The top team in the district, Montezuma-Cortez, and the No. 3-seeded Glenwood Springs seasons are also still alive.


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