Aspen volleyball sweeps Grand Junction on senior night, remains on playoff bubble
Skiers close out regular season with a Thursday trip to Steamboat
With only one guaranteed game left in the season, the Aspen High School volleyball team knows it’ll be the flip of a coin if it sees a second. The Skiers sit right on the bubble to make regional play, but Tuesday’s 3-0 sweep of visiting Grand Junction should help their cause.
“Really the focus has been on volleyball with this group and not a lot of outside distractions,” said fourth-year head coach Brittany Zanin. “It has been fun. In a way it’s been really competitive. We’ve gone to five a lot. Lost by two in five quite a few times. But to teams that were good and also to teams that maybe we could have ended it sooner and come out on top. But overall, it’s a young team and their cohesion for the first season has been really positive, which I think is helping.”
Grand Junction (2-21 overall) wasn’t much of a test for Aspen on Tuesday, with the Skiers winning by scores of 25-11, 25-17 and 25-15. AHS trailed for part of the second set, but that was about the only time the Tigers were able to provide much of a scare.
It was Aspen’s third win in four games following a tough 3-1 home loss to rival Basalt on Oct. 13, a game in which AHS feels it should have won considering the Longhorns’ 6-16 overall record this season. Aspen had beaten BHS in their first matchup on Sept. 13, winning 3-1 in Basalt.
The Grand Junction victory on Tuesday came on senior night, with the Skiers holding a brief ceremony prior to the start of the varsity game. The team was saying goodbye to a trio of seniors in Genevieve Ostrander, Sophia Theriot and Carolina Azevedo.
“Two of them, Caro and Sophia specifically, I remember them coming in as such timid little freshmen and they’ve really come a long way in their skill set,” Zanin said. “And same with Gigi. Without her our offense would be very different. We are really happy she came back this year. Our season might look a little different without her on the offense.”
Tuesday’s non-league win improved Aspen’s overall record to 10-10 this fall. The only game left is a trip Thursday to Steamboat Springs, which plays a classification higher in 4A. A loss to the Sailors, who are 15-6 overall after Tuesday’s 3-0 win over Battle Mountain, would hardly knock the Skiers out of the postseason picture, but a win could go a long way in making sure they do get in. AHS did beat Steamboat the last time they played, a 3-2 win last October in Aspen.
After Tuesday’s game, Aspen was still sitting at No. 36 in RPI, which largely determines postseason seeding. And it just so happens 36 teams make regional play, so the Skiers will be keeping their fingers crossed they have done enough to get in when the regular season concludes later this week.
Aspen’s last regional appearance came only a year ago when they were the No. 23 seed. AHS beat No. 35 Stargate School in the regional opener before losing 3-0 to No. 2 Lamar. Lamar eventually lost to No. 4 University in the 3A championship game.
“That’s a place that maybe isn’t what everyone hopes for when they walk into a season, but I’d rather have this than have the fluctuation of being great in league and not great overall. So it’s been really good. A great, competitive group,” Zanin said of the young team’s 10-10 record.
“I’m excited for the girls,” she added. “The girls are excited about the opportunity. But we are trying to just wait and see.”