Sailors soar in rivalry match
Steamboat Springs — The Battle Mountain High School girls volleyball team was competitive in the third set Thursday night, playing in Steamboat Springs in a key Western Slope League matchup.
The score was close early in that set, then a rally tightened things up midway through.
It was Steamboat’s night, however, and with momentum-killing blocks and ear-splitting kills, all in front of a raucous home crowd, the Sailors simply overpowered the Huskies to complete a home sweep of its rival.
The Sailors played their most complete match of the season Thursday, bashing Battle Mountain, 25-23, 25-14, 25-17.
“It takes a special performance to beat Battle Mountain in three,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “We got that tonight.”
More than 80 points followed, but the match may have been decided in the first set, when Steamboat roared back from two big deficits to steal the win.
The Huskies were at their best early, and senior Jordan Brandt and junior Timaree Mckenny were hitting on all cylinders. “Cylinders,” in this use, can translate to “Steamboat’s side of the court.”
The Huskies led 10-5 early, then 19-12 late after a string of aces from Lily DeMuth.
Once again, though, it was Steamboat’s night, and the Sailors managed to right the ship after each surge, tie the game with a big block from sophomore Micah Feeley, then cement the lead with a monster kill from senior Hayley Johnson.
Feeley connected for the 25th point.
“We definitely slowed down in our execution in our game plan, and Steamboat picked up their pace, which had us out of system most of the night,” Battle Mountain coach Jason Fitzgerald said. “It felt like we were chasing them around the floor.”
That block from Feeley was no small thing for the Sailors, who stressed the skill after struggling mightily with it in previous league matches. Thursday, that focus paid off, and the team regularly managed to get arms in the way.
Combine that with a strong night setting for the Sailors and a resilient defense, and they frequently were able to dictate how points unfolded.
“Our defense was amazing,” said Johnson, who led Steamboat with 15 kills. “We had really good digs and saves. We worked on blocks all week in practice, and we really brought that to the court.”
The win is a big boost for the Sailors, 13-2 and 6-1 in the Western Slope League race, though it doesn’t change their position. They were tied for first before and after the match with Eagle Valley, each with one loss. The Huskies, meanwhile, drop out of that tie with a 6-5 and 5-2 record.
The Sailors and their coaches exchanged hugs and high fives outside their locker room long after the match had ended. Plenty of volleyball remains this season, and the race to the Western Slope title is far from decided.
Thursday, though, was a good night for Steamboat, and the players wanted to enjoy it.
“This is why we compete, why we play competitive athletics,” Hall said. “This was a big win for us.”
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