Sailors prove unbearable

After struggling in her last game, Hannah Gary led the way for the Steamboat Springs volleyball team in its straight-set win against Rifle on Saturday.

Gary had 22 kills in the Sailors' 25-12, 25-21, 25-9 victory.

In Steamboat's last match, against Glenwood Springs on Thursday, Gary struggled to keep the ball in play, committing more hitting errors (11) than she had kills (10), but the senior outside hitter responded well Saturday, drilling balls at the feet of Rifle players.

"All season, I've been playing stressed, and I don't know why," Gary said. "(Saturday) I felt like the team gave me confidence."

Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said Saturday's offensive performance against the Bears was Gary's best match this season. Friday, Hall told Gary to have fun playing and to quit overanalyzing on the court.

Saturday, Hall said, Gary's body position and swing were much better. Consequently, the ball stayed between the lines, and she racked up 22 kills.

Except for one lapse late in the second game, Steamboat had its way with Rifle, spraying balls at the Bears' defense from all directions.

Stacy Cavanagh contributed seven kills Saturday. Kristyn Bradbury and Shelley Dunlop had five and four kills, respectively, while Katie Liefer and setter Brynn Gotchey each had one kill.

Gotchey had 21 assists. Tara King, who came in to set the third game, had 13 assists for Steamboat's offense.

The Sailors' attack is undoubtedly sharper when the passing is on. Against Glenwood Springs on Thursday, Steamboat had difficulty passing the ball to the setter cleanly. Defensively, the Sailors passed better and were cleaner on serve reception Saturday.

"Passing well is essential to our success," Hall said. "We need to pride ourselves on being the best ball-control team in the league, if not the state. Other than one rotation, we played a solid match, and we let our talent dominate a match."

The Sailors improved to 10-3 overall and 5-1 in the league with the win. Steamboat's next volleyball match is at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Moffat County.

With wins Saturday, as well, the Steamboat junior varsity team improved to 10-2 this season, while the freshmen moved to 11-2.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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