Basalt High volleyball optimistic despite a youthful roster devoid of senior players | AspenTimes.com

Basalt High volleyball optimistic despite a youthful roster devoid of senior players

Karina Bauer had a front-row seat last season when the seven seniors on the Basalt High School volleyball team put together one of their best campaigns in nearly a decade. Bauer, who played varsity as a freshman, is the younger sister of MacKenzie Bauer, one of those seven seniors.

Now a sophomore captain on an inexperienced team, the younger of the two Bauers hopes to build toward a similar scenario over the next few years.

"It was a lot of fun. It was pretty inspirational for a lot of these girls, including me. I was with my sister and it was awesome to see the leadership," Karina Bauer said of last year's team. "It's really exciting. I have been waiting since last year to see what this next group of girls can pull up and hopefully we'll get to see all of us progress even more."

Last fall, the first for BHS with David Chadbourne and Amy Trautman as co-coaches, Basalt finished 11-12 overall, the first double-digit win season since going 13-9 in 2008 under coach Dave Drozd. The Longhorns had only won a combined seven games over a four-year span from 2013 to 2016, and five of those wins came two years ago under coach Kara Lindahl. BHS last won the league in 2007.

"We lost most of our troop last year, but the good news is these girls got to play with them and got to experience some of that," Chadbourne said. "They have a hunger for the game, which is great, and I think that's going to serve them well."

The Longhorns have gone from seven seniors a year ago to none in 2018. Of the main varsity group, sophomores like Karina Bauer, an outside hitter, make up the heart of the roster this fall. They do have three juniors, but also plan to play two freshmen, which includes starting setter Lexi Lowe.

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"We've had a little bit of a rocky start," Bauer said, "but now that we've gotten into the flow of things and we just went to our tournament, we've sort of gotten a sneak peek of what we are going to be like and we can see a lot of improvement."

The Longhorns opened their season over the weekend at a tournament in Thornton, going 2-2. Basalt had wins over Adams City and Denver North, while it lost to Skyview and Skyline, all by scores of 2-0.

The team next plays Tuesday at Moffat County and doesn't get to play at home until hosting Rifle on Sept. 15. BHS does play Sept. 13 at Aspen, which doesn’t start its season until Sept. 6 at Roaring Fork.

The general youthfulness of this year's Basalt team meant tempered expectations entering the fall. But after seeing the potential play out in Thornton, there is hope this season can be more than simply a rebuilding year.

"That was a good test and gauge of where we are and where we would like to be. I thought the girls performed pretty well because they played some bigger schools down there," Chadbourne said.

"We maybe started at the beginning and looked at this as being a growth year for us, but I think the girls are developing so quickly and playing so strongly that we are not just going to look at is as a growth year. We are going to look at is as a productive year, as well. It's going to be good."

acolbert@aspentimes.com