STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The fourth and final set of Tuesday night’s volleyball clash between Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley summed it all up nicely.
There were powerful swings and great serves from the Devils. There were incredible saves and efficient passes from the Sailors. There were streaks for both teams where the opposing team seemed helpless, destined to lose the set. But finally, Steamboat was a little better, winning the game and taking the match in four sets, 25-23, 25-19, 15-25 and 25-20.
The win helped solidify a strong start to the season for Steamboat that even has impressed a few of the Sailors.
“That’s as big a win as we’ve had in this gym in a few years,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “That was a good volleyball team, and it took a team effort to win.”
At its best, Steamboat controlled the net and simply didn’t let the ball hit the floor. Taylor Harrington finished with 10 kills and Mikaila Jegtvig seven while Alexis Len had 26 digs and Maddie Labor had 23.
A fine example came early in that fourth set, Steamboat eager to put some distance on the Devils. Labor saved a kill, diving to the floor just in time to keep it in play. Jegtvig then saved Labor’s effort and relayed it to Gabby Heron, who put the ball over the net. Harrington won the point when Eagle Valley attempted to return it, stuffing the ball at the net.
“At the net, we were trying to block the quick sets,” Harrington said. “The big part was just put ting a block up so they’d get intimidated.”
At their best, the Devils were overpowering. Melanie Grayson nearly served her team out of a seemingly inescapable hole late in the first set, trailing 24-19. Steamboat struggled to even get one of her serves back over the net and Eagle Valley pulled within a point of a tie before the Sailors finally won the point and the set.
The Devils roared in the third game, winning with ease, and led midway through that deceive fourth game, 13-10.
“We’re very streaky right now,” Eagle Valley coach Garrett La Force said. “We can put 10 points together and look like a state contender, or we can put 10 together and look like we won’t make a regional. When we pass well, we have so many options and we are unpredictable. When we don’t, we only have one option and the defense can set up against us.”
The win bumps Steamboat to 3-1 in the Western Slope and Eagle Valley to 3-2. Steamboat returns to action Thursday with a trip to Glenwood Springs, then will face to stare down Eagle Valley again on Saturday, this time on the road.
The Devils (3-3, 3-2) will squeeze a Friday trip to Roaring Fork in before welcoming the Sailors.