Sailors hang on for home win
Steamboat Springs — A year ago, the Steamboat Springs High School volleyball team stubbed its toe in a big way, losing on a late-season road trip to play at Palisade.
That was an expensive mistake against a middle-of-the-league team, and it likely cost the Sailors the chance to play host to a regional tournament pod.
It was the kind of match that can teach a lesson, however, and now, a year later, it’s a lesson that was still reverberating with the Sailors. Friday night, they made sure not to make the same mistake twice, holding off a gritty Palisade squad at home in four sets, 25-14, 25-15, 23-25, 25-19.
“Palisade always shows up to play us. It’s always a big game, so to win this one was huge,” senior setter Abigail Wiedel said.
The match was the first in a series of big showdowns for the Sailors, the next one coming at 1 p.m. Saturday, again at home, this time against Delta.
Steamboat controls its own fate in the Western Slope League at this point, but the Panthers have leapt into the league championship conversation and could inflict a major blow to the Sailors with a win.
Steamboat emerged with a four-set victory when the two teams met in Delta last month.
“We’re expecting a pretty big game, just like this game,” Wiedel said. “They have a big hitter on the outside we’re keeping an eye out for, and we’re pretty prepared.”
Two hitters, Ashton Reese and Emily Baier, dominate the Delta stat sheet, racking up 80 percent of their team’s kills.
No matter how the Sailors fare against that onslaught, four more league matches remain, including trips to play both league powers Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain.
If Steamboat can play as well as it did in stretches Friday, things will be exciting down the stretch. The Sailors ran away with the first two games, taking advantage as the Bulldogs let errors rack up.
Palisade stood firm in the third game, however, and was sharp in the fourth, too. Steamboat managed to meet that strength with some of its own to hold on for the win. Jenna Miller had six crushing kills in the fourth set to finish the night with nine. Hayley Johnson led the team with 17, and Annie Osbourn had eight. Micah Feeley, meanwhile, came up with four big blocks, while Wiedel added 20 assists and Maddie Labor 23 digs.
“Hitting errors kind of killed us in the third, so it was nice to see us get 16 kills and six hitting errors in the fourth to put it away,” coach Wendy Hall said. “Palisade is a tough team. We saw the level of volleyball they’re capable of in the third and fourth sets.”
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