‘Horns hook postseason laurels | AspenTimes.com

‘Horns hook postseason laurels

Jon Maletz

It’s been nearly a week since Basalt traveled to the 3A state volleyball tournament, and the disappointment from Denver lingers, head coach Dave Drozd said Friday.However, there were signs at Thursday’s banquet that Longhorns had started to move on, Drozd said. A season in which Basalt distinguished itself has shadowed the abrupt ending. The Longhorns (25-5 overall) won regular-season league and district titles, swept their way to a regional crown and earned their first state berth since 1978.League coaches honored three standouts who spearheaded the success – seniors Liz Nemiec, Bailey Holmes and junior Dayne Toney – with all-league first-team selections. Senior Sam Christensen, and sophomores Heather Nemiec and Shelby Holmes, received honorable-mention consideration.”We knew we were playing outstanding volleyball at the end of the season, and that’s what you’re supposed to do,” Drozd said. “We’re all excited about how far we went. We put volleyball on the map for Basalt.”While she was solid in 2005, Nemiec honed her skills with Drozd’s help. It paid dividends: She was third on the team with 41 aces, to go along with her 1,011 sets. Her leadership, however, transcended the stat sheet.”She was the leader on the court, the one person who always kept it positive,” Drozd said. “When the team’s composure went down, she kept us going. She was phenomenal. She’ll be the toughest person to replace.”The Longhorns will also miss Holmes. Holmes, a first-team selection in 2005 along with Nemiec, made the move to the outside in 2006. Her athleticism on the back line was vital. She led the team with 468 digs and was the team’s best passer, Drozd said.Her assertiveness at the net didn’t go unnoticed, either: Holmes averaged 2.54 kills per game, second to Toney.”She had an outstanding year,” Drozd said. “She played the left side which was her natural position and played a lot more solid defense. We’ll miss her.”Nobody who saw Toney’s performance at regionals, could have questioned her ability, Drozd said. Toney outshone her counterpart from opponent Middle Park – who will play at Air Force next year. She led the team with 449 kills in 30 matches, and recorded 59 total blocks. Toney could have made a case for player of the year, Drozd said. There will be little debate next season.”Dayne is the best player going into next year,” Drozd said. “She was the most consistent. Every night she was putting up big numbers. She definitely proved herself.”Toney and returning starters Shelby Holmes and Heather Nemiec will give Drozd a formidable nucleus. Heather Nemiec was strong on the back row and was fourth on the team with 233 digs, and Shelby Holmes led the team with 63 aces and was third with 217 kills. Holmes also has the talent for league MVP consideration in 2007, Drozd said.”Hopefully she grows a little,” he joked. “She can really dominate at the net. We’ll still have a great team next year.” If they are to mimic this season’s success, the Longhorns will have to find someone to replace Christensen’s intangibles, Drozd said. The right-side player, a first-team selection last season, showed toughness and leadership. She was second on the team with 334 digs, recorded 211 kills and had 27 blocks.”She always brought a lot of energy and it was fun to watch her play,” Drozd said. “It’s always hard to lose a player like that.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.comThe Aspen Times, Aspen, Colo.