Aspen spikes Hotchkiss | AspenTimes.com

Aspen spikes Hotchkiss

Jennifer Davoren
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The regular season might be over, but the real fight has barely begun for the Aspen High School volleyball team.

The Skiers notched another win in their final game of the season Saturday night, routing visiting Hotchkiss in two straight games ? the girls even marked their biggest winning margin of the season in the second. However, AHS has a long road and two big competitors ahead as the team prepares for this weekend’s district tournament.

Aspen is still, as they have been for the last three weeks, tied for first place in the 3A Western Slope League with rivals Eagle Valley and Cedaredge. All three competitors are currently 6-1 in league play.

“We’ve had that three-way tie for a long time and I think those teams were kind of crossing their fingers on us to lose tonight,” AHS coach Emily Bakker said Saturday.

Instead, the girls dominated both sets of Saturday’s match. Though the Skiers were short one top player ? senior Lizzie Suiter used the weekend to visit future teammates at Stanford, where she has accepted an athletic scholarship ? AHS didn’t miss a beat, Bakker said.

“Even with the girls missing Lizzie, they came out with a lot of confidence and they pulled it off,” she said. “The girls just showed that they can dominate the game, regardless of who’s out there. All the players showed that they deserve every moment out there.”

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AHS maintained a consistent lead on Hotchkiss during the first game, and finished it at 15-11 with two kills by senior Dana Fleisher. The second game was a confidence-booster for Aspen ? the Skiers built a 5-0 lead in under four minutes and ended it with a Lindsay Patterson spike, 15-1.

The Skiers recorded nine aces and 14 kills over the night, thanks to AHS’ senior standouts, Bakker said.

“Lauren Gillin was a huge standout tonight ? she hit it at 100 percent. She didn’t make any errors ? everything she touched was gold,” she said. “Dana Fleisher serving was incredible ? she got us at least 10 [points].

“Lindsay [Patterson] was eaten up a little bit by people out there, but she found a way to get around them, and Tanya Helmus found a way to be aggressive,” Bakker said.

The top eight teams in the 3A Western Slope league will meet at the district tournament this weekend, and Aspen expects a high seed. The top-two finishers from the district tourney advance to regional play.

During last year’s district tourney, No. 2 seed Aspen fell early to Eagle Valley before pulling together for a last-minute victory over Cedaredge and a berth to regionals. With the three top league rivals battling for a regional berth once again, Bakker expects AHS will have to put up an even bigger fight at districts this year.

“That means we’ll have to have an all-out battle at the tournament this weekend in Grand Junction,” Bakker said.