Steamboat volleyball sweeps by Moffat |

Steamboat volleyball sweeps by Moffat

Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat's Jenna Miller and Moffat County's Charli Earl battle over a ball at the net Thursday as the Sailors and the Bulldogs clashed in an early season match in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat won in three sets, improving to 6-0.
Joel Reichenberger

— There’s a hard-to-quantify element that emanated Thursday night from the Steamboat Springs volleyball team. Maturity? Confidence? Swagger? Maybe it was some concoction of all of the above, but in the Sailors’ first home game of the season, it all swirled together and gave the team a dominating win against a rebuilding Moffat County squad.

Steamboat won with a 25-14, 25-13, 25-17 sweep. After winning its first five games in a Glenwood Springs tournament last weekend, the team is now 6-0.

“This team is gaining confidence,” Steamboat coach Wendy Hall said. “They worked so hard this summer to start feeling that, like, ‘We know we deserve it as much as anybody.’ That is that confidence you can’t really coach.”

There weren’t many speed bumps Thursday for the home team, which built big leads early in the first and third sets. It led 18-8 in the first and 12-4 in the third.

Steamboat perhaps best demonstrated its power in the second set, however. Moffat was playing well early in that set, and while Steamboat again gained an edge, the Bulldogs kept it small. It was 12-11 midway through.

Maddie Labor stepped to the serving line for Steamboat, and for all practical purposes, that was the end of the set. She guided the Sailors through the next nine points, and by the time Moffat had another crack at it, it was 21-12.

Labor served well all night, racking up five aces and connecting on 21 of 22 serves. Annie Osbourn led Steamboat with seven kills. Taylor Harrington had six, and Hayley Johnson, playing in just the second set, had five kills.

Maritza Wiedel, meanwhile, had 21 assists for the Sailors.

“We played really well together,” Steamboat’s Jenna Miller said. “We got good passes to the setter, and they set up plays really well.

“It was fun.”

It was all Steamboat on the scoreboard, but the Bulldogs came away with plenty of lessons learned, and coach Starla Jensen said that made the night an overall positive.

There was plenty that seemed correctable.

Unforced errors kept the team from ever gaining momentum, plays like putting up big blocks on Steamboat hitters only to lose the point for getting into the net.

But Jensen found lots of positives.

She pointed to her team’s communication, big hits from Brittany Rothermond and big blocks from Mattie Jo Duzik and Morgan Lawton.

“We didn’t win, but we came in and played volleyball,” she said. “It’s been a while since anyone’s seen that, and when we played, we played well.”

Steamboat now takes a long break to be followed by a long road trip, where it will play three consecutive league opponents on the road, starting Sept. 13 at Rifle.

Moffat County, 2-3 after Thursday, is back in action Friday against Durango at a tournament in Delta.