Basey, Coutts claim Motherlode men’s title, Sokolowski wins third straight on women’s side
With the help of teammate Ty Coutts, Gage Basey overcome a loss to his brother to rally for the men’s open division championship at the 50th annual Motherlode Volleyball Classic on Monday at Koch Lumber Park in Aspen.
Basey and Coutts beat Skylar Del Sol and Christian Hoover in an intense final, 2-0. Set scores were 23-21 and 22-20.
“It felt so fun with Ty being there to bang every ball that I got him,” Basey told the on-site announcers after the match. “If I get him an open net, I know it’s put away. That was really satisfying.”
Basey and Coutts had to make the final via the contender bracket after losing to Ian Carlson and Lars Basey, 2-1. The Front Range duo of Carlson and Lars Basey won the men’s open division last year, only to have Lars pass the torch to his brother Gage this year.
Basey and Coutts rallied to make the semifinals, even beating Hoover and Del Sol along the way, and had to top Adam Roberts and Jeff Samuels, a former Motherlode champion, to make the finale.
“Skylar knows me really well. We lived together for many years. He’s been the best man at my wedding. I was the best man at his wedding,” Coutts said of Del Sol, another Colorado resident and a former Motherlode champion. “We definitely know each other, so there is never a time I think we control it all. Skylar is one of the highest volleyball IQ people I know.”
In the women’s open division final on Monday, Ukraine native Lena Sokolowski won for the third straight year, this time alongside teammate Jackie Wegner. The pair beat Mallory Deneen and Katie Vatterrodt in the final, 2-0. Set scores were 21-17 and 23-21. Wegner made the semifinals last year.
“I think I’m a very patient player. I let the game kind of play out and then you take everything in and the minute you need a certain dig, you make the move you maybe let slide at the beginning of the game,” Wegner told the announcers about the team’s clutch play throughout the tournament. “It’s been very fun. Those are our best friends, so it’s fun to get out there and compete against your friends. It’s hard, but it’s fun.”
This was the 50th year of the Motherlode, which started as a simple barbecue in the early 1970s. Since then, it’s grown into one of the largest grassroots volleyball tournaments in the country and brings in numerous professional players to compete in the open division each year.
Crested Butte’s Corey Bryndal, himself a former player, took over ownership of the Motherlode in 2021 (the 2020 tournament was canceled because of the pandemic, which would have been Bryndal’s first as owner).
“It just has that hometown vibe. It started as a barbecue, and you can almost still feel those roots. It’s people on the grassy knolls that are coming and have come for 20 years,” Coutts told the announcers of why he likes coming to Motherlode. “Being around this field and this court and the energy the locals bring and the crowd brings … it’s been really fun.”
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