Basalt spikers back on track | AspenTimes.com

Basalt spikers back on track

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

Aspen's Ariel Shipe digs a Longhorns serve Saturday at Basalt High School. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

BASALT Basalt volleyball coach Clay Dahlman described his ailing team as a “three-legged horse trying to gallop” in Friday’s match in Coal Ridge.A day after suffering their first loss of the season to the Titans, it looks as though the Longhorns are back on four legs and back on track. Basalt dispatched of rival Aspen, 25-18, 25-14 and 25-20 and maintains its grasp on 3A Western Slope’s top spot. The Longhorns (15-1 overall, 10-1 conference) lead Olathe by one game in the loss column. Basalt, which narrowly beat the Pirates in three games Sept. 27, visits Olathe Friday at 6 p.m. “After [Friday’s game] we realize we need to pick it up,” sophomore setter Kehau Vegas said. “Today was a good turning point.”

Four Longhorns – Heather Nemiec, Shelby Holmes, Nicole Booth and Maggie Everett – missed the majority of last week’s practices with illness. They played sparingly Friday and again on Saturday. While it was clear it wasn’t at full strength, Basalt was able to prevail against an Aspen squad that has won once this season. Sloppy play abounded in a first game in which Basalt jumped out to a 6-1 lead on the strength of three kills from Dayne Toney and some Skiers miscues on the serve and at the net. Aspen rallied back to square the match at seven when Toney attempted a dig and the ball sailed out of play. The Longhorns strung together four straight points to go up, 20-14, and prompt Aspen coach Jen Schrock to call a timeout. Aspen could pull no closer than four the rest of the way.Basalt, fueled by strong play at the net and miscommunication from the Skiers, opened Game 2 with a 14-4 run. Toney mistimed her jump on a kill attempt, but acrobatically finished the play to put the Longhorns up 20-9. Basalt clinched the 11-point victory when an Aspen kill attempt sailed wide.

“It wasn’t convincing and we didn’t fire on all cylinders, but we did it nonetheless,” Dahlman said.Aspen, which was swept Sept. 14 in the teams’ first match, didn’t fold. The two teams exchanged leads 10 times in Game 3, and the Skiers took a 14-13 lead on a kill from Katy Evans. “That’s not normal for us,” Schrock said. “The girls are happy they stuck with them. It was one of the best games we’ve had. We’re learning.”The Longhorns’ prowess at the net proved to be too much, however. Holmes tied the match at 14 with a kill, then Toney gave Basalt the lead when she finished a perfect set from Vegas. Later, Holmes and Toney went back-to-back again. Toney’s soft kill in the middle on game point clinched the 25-20 victory and the sweep – it’s eighth this season.

Basalt is seemingly back on track after proving it was vulnerable, Dahlman said. The coach feels that, as postseason play approaches, Friday’s loss might just be a good thing.”We’re not invincible,” Dahlman said. “We have to bring our A game no matter who we’re playing. It was humbling, but it’s going to be good for our focus.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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