Steamboat volleyball wins all 3 matches against Rifle |

Steamboat volleyball wins all 3 matches against Rifle

— The Steamboat Springs girls volleyball team played so quickly, it almost seemed as if the Sailors had made other plans for Saturday night.

In any case, they wasted little time in dispatching Rifle, a powerful win that might help Steamboat get back on track. The Sailors defended their home court Saturday, winning, 25-7, 25-15, 25-13.

“It was great to see us stay focused for three games,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “Rifle was not at their best tonight, but we stayed focused and didn’t let the guard down.”

Steamboat relied upon the strong arm of junior setter Colleen King for much of its offense Saturday, but it was the defense King and the Sailors were able to generate that really opened up the match.

King and senior Maggie Kriz dominated one end of the net, combining for seven blocks. Together, they prevented Rifle from generating more than a few big swings, frustrating the Bears throughout the night.

After a rout in the first game, it wasn’t so much that Steamboat (9-4) walked away with the other two. More important was how the Sailors pieced together huge runs midway through both victories to ensure a three-game match.

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Rifle played its best ball in the second game and hung without a point through the early going. The Bears finally found some holes in Steamboat’s defense and did a better job setting up all of its attacks.

“When our passing isn’t there, nothing happens,” Rifle coach Geneva Farr said. “Our passing was more consistent early in the second game, but once we shanked one pass, our minds seemed to go with it.”

Then, the Sailors blew it open. King provided the big hits, Kriz the blocks and junior Gracie Stockdale a long series of solid serves as Steamboat turned a 13-12 game into a 22-12 rout.

(Hall) “told me to keep the serves in and run the offense,” said Stockdale, who served as Steamboat scored nine consecutive points. “I tried not to do anything too fancy. I didn’t go for the ace or the deep corner. I just got it over, and it worked.”

Rifle (7-7) wasn’t quite as good in the third game, but still challenged Steamboat early. But again, the Sailors exploded. Junior Devin Wilkinson and senior Kacey Bull each picked up kills as the lead expanded.

“Steamboat’s just a graceful team,” Farr said. “They were smooth, consistent and they communicated really well. Any team that can communicate that well, be it the Bears or the Sailors, is going to make a lot of good decisions.”

That communication caught Hall’s eye, as well. She said it was exactly the medicine an ailing Steamboat squad needed. After opening the season 7-1, the Sailors had lost three of their previous four.

“There wasn’t much indecision out there,” she said of the efficient offense. “I’m really happy. It looked like we were back on track after a rough couple weeks.”