Basalt volleyball squanders lead, match against Olathe | AspenTimes.com

Basalt volleyball squanders lead, match against Olathe

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – Basalt head coach Stephanie Palmer points to momentary lapses in concentration as the root of her team’s inconsistency this season.

The first-year coach has seen the periods of strong play, those that make her Longhorns look like 3A Western Slope title contenders. She’s also witnessed the lackluster stretches, those in which auspicious starts and big leads have been squandered, and Basalt is seemingly struggling to find its identity.

Tuesday’s match against visiting Olathe was no different. The Longhorns pulled out a tight Game 1 victory and jumped out to leads in the early stages of both Games 1 and 2. They fizzled from there, however – perhaps the result of illness sweeping through the team, or a recent five-day stretch in which they played three times – en route to a 25-23, 18-25, 19-25, 17-25 loss.

“In that first game, we had so much intensity,” senior Ashley Soucie said. “I don’t know how we started to lose it.”

Soucie followed up an ace from teammate Nicole Booth with a kill, helping spark a 5-0 run that gave Basalt a 15-13 lead in a seesaw first game. Later, the Longhorns pulled off two blocks to tie the game at 21, then took advantage of three consecutive Pirates miscues to force game point. Soucie sealed the win with a kill.

Basalt parlayed that momentum into a fast start in Game 2, jumping out to a 5-2 lead. The mistakes popped up from there, however, and Olathe clawed back into the game, taking advantage of a failed dig to tie the game at 13.

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The Pirates scored five of the next seven points – all coming on Longhorns errors. After a Basalt server hit the net and another player’s attempted kill sailed wide, Pirates sophomore Emily Brummit squared the match with a game-winning ace.

Booth, Soucie and Adrienne Wahlstrom produced kills, then Soucie and Chantri Knotts teamed up for a block as the Longhorns jumped out to a 7-1, Game-3 lead. The advantage was short-lived, however, as sure-handed Olathe took advantage of its strength at the net to answer with a 16-4 run and seize control. Brummit recorded four kills in the game.

“The energy kind of dissipated,” Palmer said. “We’re trying to conquer that.”

It didn’t happen in Game 4, where the Pirates jumped out to a 10-3 lead, highlighted by five kills and two aces. The run prompted a Basalt timeout.

The Longhorns would pull no closer than three the rest of the way. Olathe middle blocker Bethany Cox sealed the win with an ace.

The loss is Basalt’s second straight since Friday’s dramatic five-set win over rival Aspen. The Longhorns will look to rebound Friday at Grand Valley.

“We’re definitely a skilled team,” Palmer said. “As soon as we find that ‘It’ [factor], we’ll be on top.”

“I so badly want to lead this team to victory,” Soucie said, “but it’s not going to take one person. Every person has to be willing and able to do what it takes. … I think we’ll figure it out.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com