Aspen volleyball tops Steamboat in five-setter, moves closer to regional play |

Aspen volleyball tops Steamboat in five-setter, moves closer to regional play

Aspen High School's Avery Leonard sends the ball over the net against Steamboat Springs on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in the volleyball team's home finale inside the AHS gymnasium. The Skiers won, 3-2.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

On Saturday against visiting Steamboat Springs, the Aspen High School volleyball team found itself in an all-or-nothing fifth set for the seventh time this season.

While this continues to cause an undue amount of stress on coach Brittany Zanin, her confidence continues to rise as the Skiers keep proving they can handle the situation. This time it was a 3-2 win for AHS, making the team 4-3 this fall in five-set affairs.

“They had a lot of opportunity to not rebound and to get in their own way,” Zanin said. “The growth of being able to mentally check that and pivot quickly is what we’ve been working on, for some of them all four of their high school careers here. Every game now they show me they are growing mentally, which is what I’ve been asking for. This was a great testament for them.”

The Sailors came in and took the first set of Saturday’s match, 25-21. AHS rallied with a 25-21 win in the second set, lost the third 25-22 and battled through to win the fourth set, 25-20.

Even the fifth set went long, with the Skiers holding on for the 16-14 win to take the match.

Steamboat, a bigger Class 4A team, dropped to 12-11 in what was its final regular season game.

Aspen improved to 13-5 overall after recording its fourth straight win. Saturday’s game was the final inside the AHS gymnasium this fall for the Skiers, who will close out the regular season with three road games next week, beginning with a trip to Moffat County on Tuesday. They play at Grand Valley on Thursday and then play a potentially huge game at North Fork on Saturday.

Aspen and North Fork have pulled ahead in the race for second place in the 3A Western Slope League, with that finale likely being the decider. Delta has already clinched the WSL title with an undefeated 10-0 mark in league play.

The bigger story remains Aspen’s pursuit of a spot in the 36-team regional field. As of Saturday evening, AHS was No. 31 in RPI.

“I’m confident in their ability once we get there. I have all the hope in the world that we get there,” Zanin said. “I’m excited about the thought. I check MaxPreps more than I check my bank account right now.”

Aspen hasn’t been to the postseason since 2018, Zanin’s final year as an assistant coach before she took over as head coach in 2019.

Basalt (10-6 overall) is No. 41 in RPI and faces an uphill climb to make the regional tournament. The Longhorns, who were off this past weekend, still have games at North Fork on Tuesday and then the finale next Saturday at home against Moffat County.

Longhorn soccer falls in Glenwood

The Basalt High School boys soccer team wrapped up its season on Saturday with a 2-0 loss at Glenwood Springs to finish 3-12 overall. With an RPI of No. 49 as of Saturday evening, the Longhorns are well out of reach of making the 32-team state tournament, which should be announced in the next day or two.

Aspen (9-5-1), which wrapped up its regular season Thursday with a 3-0 win at Colorado Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, had an RPI of 18 as of Saturday evening and is a safe bet to make the 3A state field. The top 16 seeds will get to host a first-round playoff game.


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