’Dogs in wide-open WSL volleyball race
This is not your typical Class 4A Western Slope League volleyball season.
In years past, teams such as Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Glenwood Springs and Palisade could be counted on to dominate the top of the league standings and earn the playoff berths.
“As a team in this league this year, you have to step on the court and be ready to play every single match,” Palisade coach Wendy MacAskill said Saturday after her team’s 25-21, 25-18, 25-14 victory over Steamboat Springs.
“It’s wide open,” her Steamboat counterpart, Wendy Hall said, still showing confidence in her team’s ability to be a factor in the league despite the loss.
Heading into Saturday, the league leader was Eagle Valley (9-1, 5-0 WSL), a team that for years was near the bottom of the league standings looking up at the “haves.”
The Devils had a one-game lead on Battle Mountain.
Palisade’s victory kept the Bulldogs (6-5, 5-2) in the hunt and dropped Steamboat Springs (8-4, 4-3) one game behind Palisade in fourth place.
“There’s nobody that really stands out,” Palisade senior middle hitter Chelsea Lorimor said.
It was Palisade’s fifth consecutive victory after opening the league season with losses to Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley.
And just like this isn’t the same WSL as in years past, this isn’t the same Palisade team that began the season 1-5.
“Our season was really tough,” Lorimor said “We had some people quit (before the season). At the beginning we were trying to find out what made us a team. We finally found out. We came together as a team.”
MacAskill said the Bulldogs were competitive at the start of the season, but not for an entire match. That’s not the case now.
“We’ve played with everybody, but not all the time,” she said. “We’re just learning how to play more consistently.”
Trailing by three points in the first game, Palisade went on a 9-3 run and won the game on Morgan Reynolds’ cross-court kill to the back corner.
Steamboat pulled to within 8-6 early in the second game but never got closer as Lorimor, who led the team with 10 kills, had a couple of tips into the middle of the Sailors’ defense to begin the run.
With Lorimor having success in the middle, Steamboat tried to set the ball to the outside hitters.
“They did start to double-block in the middle,” MacAskill said of the Sailors’ strategy.
That’s when Reynolds came through again, getting kills on three successive serves as Palisade pulled away.
MacAskill and Hall both agree that October will be the telling month.
“The team that’s most consistent at the end of the year will probably be the league champ,” MacAskill said.