STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The roar lasted the entire game, a raucous Steamboat Springs student section trading cheers — some funny, some insulting, but all loud — with a sprinkling of Battle Mountain fans and junior varsity volleyball players.
“There’s a net there!” rang out for every error into the net, and “You can’t do that” for every point won by a procedural mistake.
But late in the third set of a Tuesday night matchup against the Huskies, those fans found something else to cheer: “We are winning.”
And briefly, Steamboat was. Afterward, how the Sailors built that lead — 24-20 — and how Battle Mountain responded defined each team’s response to what was otherwise and entirely anticipated result.
The Huskies won in three sets, 25-14, 25-15 and, after an against-the-wall rally, 27-25.
“We were ready to compete, and I really thought we did that,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “It’s too bad we couldn’t have closed out that set, but that’s the mark of a good team. They weren’t going to hand us anything.”
Battle Mountain entered the game not only undefeated in the Slope, but having won each of its five league matchups without dropping a set. It quickly showed Steamboat exactly how that happened, cruising to easy wins in the first two sets behind the always strong LaRose Currie, who had a match-high 23 kills.
In the third set, though, Steamboat had a real chance. It fell behind by several points on several occasions, trailing 11-6 early and 20-17 late, but it never lost contact and managed to tie things at 20 when the Huskies hit out of bounds. Another Battle Mountain error gave Steamboat its first meaningful lead of the night, then Annie Osbourne made it 22-20 by tapping a kill into the middle of the Huskies’ side a moment later.
‘Can’t be disappointed’
“We showed up,” Steamboat’s Mikaila Jegtvig said. “After the first two sets, I was disappointed, but the way we played in the third, I can’t be disappointed. If we can play that well in the third set against them, we should be beating a lot of teams.”
Jegtvig capped Steamboat’s surge with two aces. Suddenly, after trailing all night, the Sailors were one point from a set victory and the Steamboat fans were rocking.
Battle Mountain, just for a moment, was rattled.
“When we were down, 24-20, and they wanted me to take a timeout,” Huskies coach Jason Fitzgerald said, “I said ‘No, we’re going to fight. We’re going to fight, and we’re going to figure out how much fight we have in us.’”
Enough, as it turned out.
A few Steamboat errors combined with several good serves and, with the scored tied 24-24, a huge block from Sofia Calabrese and Emily Clinton helped the Huskies retake the lead and set the stage for yet another sweep of the league opponent.
“It came out on our side,” Fitzgerald said. “I have to believe in them for them to believe in me. When it came down to the end, I just said, ‘Be yourselves and we’ll see what happens.’”
Battle Mountain, 8-1 and 6-0, was scheduled to play at Summit County on Wednesday.
“We know we can be beat on any night,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s great to be tested here. Their crowd was amazing. We loved it. We’ll take a crazy, fun, energetic gym any day.”