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Sailors enter playoffs

Volleyball team to battle at districts

— By 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the sounds of a hard-working volleyball team could be heard ringing through the hallways outside Steamboat Springs High School’s main gym.

The constant rhythm of volleyballs bouncing off the floor, arms or walls was interrupted by an occasional yell of a player or the thoughtful words of head coach Wendy Hall.

“We’ve got to start hitting the ball,” Hall chirped at one of her players as she switched positions during a drill.

“Come on guys, we’ve got to pick it up,” another player yelled.

It only took a few minutes for anyone who stopped to watch the team work out to see intensity will not be a problem this week.

“We were disappointed,” Sailor Bayli Stillwell said. “We felt like we let the league title slip away last week but that is in the past. Now we have to work hard and show them what we have at the district tournament.”

The Sailors will be the No. 3 seed in the tournament behind the Western Slope champion Glenwood Springs Demons and the host Montezuma-Cortez Panthers.

The Sailors and Demons had identical 10-2 records in the league this season. Glenwood, however, came out on top of the tiebreaker, edging the Sailors by a margin of six points in head-to-head play.

“Normally, I want to stay out of the pool with Cortez, but it might be a good thing for us this season,” Hall said. “From top to bottom, I think the other pool is a lot stronger.”

Steamboat will be positioned in the first pool along with Delta, Rifle and Cortez.

The other pool will be comprised of Glenwood Springs, Palisade, Montrose and either Moffat County or Battle Mountain.

Palisade and Glenwood are two teams that the Sailors struggled against this season. Steamboat was also close in its matches with Montrose.

“Montrose is a very strong team for the fifth seed,” Hall said.

The coach likes her team’s chances in the other pool. She said it would be important for Steamboat to take care of business against Delta (3 p.m.) and Rifle (6 p.m.) on Friday.

“I don’t think we will even start talking about Cortez until Friday night,” Hall said.

“We need to play it one match at a time,” she said. “A lot of things can happen at the district tournament. Players realize that this might be their last game and they bring everything they have to the floor.”

Stillwell agrees and said while her team is looking ahead to the Montezuma-Cortez match, she also expects Delta and Rifle to be tough.

“We have beaten both of those teams this year, but I think things will be different this weekend,” she said. “We can’t take any match too lightly at this point of the season.”

Stillwell thinks the team has the athletic talent to get to the state tournament and do well. But she also knows the Sailors will have to prove and possess the mental toughness to get the job done.

The district tournament will open with pool play on Friday afternoon at 3 p.m.

The match to determine third place is scheduled for 4 p.m. and will be followed by the championship match at 5:30 p.m. The top three finishers in this weekend’s district tournament will advance to the regional tournament the following weekend.


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