‘Horns spikers fall short at regionals | AspenTimes.com

‘Horns spikers fall short at regionals

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

ARVADA, Colo. Saturday, for the first time in more than two months, Basalt volleyball coach Clay Dahlman will be relaxing instead of devising offensive schemes.He would rather be in Denver.”I was really hoping to go for a couple more weeks,” Dahlman said Tuesday. “Things just didn’t go our way.”The Longhorns’ bid for a second straight trip to the 3A state tournament was cut short at Saturday’s regional in Arvada. Basalt went 1-2, dropping matches to Roosevelt and Faith Christian by a total of 6 games to 1. It salvaged the trip with a 3-1 win over Platte Canyon, but finished third – the top two teams from each of the four four-team regions qualified for the state tournament, which begins Friday at Denver Coliseum.Dahlman intimated during an interview last week that he was concerned about how his sixth-seeded Longhorns (22-4) would fare in their 8:30 a.m. match against no. 11 Roosevelt to open pool play. The coach’s worries were realized – Basalt was swept.”I remember being nervous about it, and it wound up haunting us,” Dahlman said. “You think you can slow the match down with a couple timeouts and make a transition, but look at the scores, and you realize we were shocked and surprised. It really set a different type of tone for the rest of the day. … We were on our heels trying to catch up for the rest of the day. It made the scenario much more challenging.”Basalt’s typically imposing offense had a rough time against the Roughriders, collecting just 10 total kills in three games. Roosevelt outscored the Longhorns, 75-46, including a lopsided 25-13 final game victory. “The girls were totally asleep and were not firing at all,” Dahlman said. “It was surprising how little we produced in the match.”The Longhorns rebounded against No. 14 Platte Canyon. Basalt, which won Game 1, pulled out 25-21 and 25-14 victories in Games 3 and 4 to set up a final match with far-ranging implications.With a win against host and No. 3 overall seed Faith Christian, the Longhorns would have forced a three-way tie for first – and a playoff.”I told the girls everything was on the line,” Dahlman said. “At one point they joked, ‘Don’t put all this pressure on us or anything, coach.’ I told them that if they were interested in going to state, they had to realize the pressure they were under.”While the two teams exchanged rallies and points for much of the first game, the Eagles pulled out a 25-23 victory. The Longhorns pushed right back, coming out on the winning end in a tight 27-25 game. Faith Christian (22-4), which locked up the second overall seed in the eight-team state tournament, fended off Basalt from there, sealing the match with 25-18 and 25-19 victories. Four Eagles had seven or more kills. “They were a little emotional. It set in pretty quickly when they lost that last match that it was time to hang up their jerseys for the season,” Dahlman said. “We went out in that match and played some of the best volleyball I’ve seen these girls play this season. I think the girls walked out of there feeling proud of their accomplishments this season, but were a little saddened by the fact they couldn’t take it one step further after getting so close.”The missed opportunities still perplex Dahlman. The Longhorns squandered their chance to host a regional when they lost to Olathe in districts after beating the Pirates twice during the regular season. Still, the season’s bittersweet ending should not overshadow the team’s accomplishments, he added. Basalt won an outright league championship, went undefeated at home, reached the regional round for just the second time since 1978 and will finish in the top 12 in the final state rankings.”Any person who appreciates athletes and sports can look back at a record like ours and know that, throughout the season, we were doing a lot right and very little wrong,” Dahlman said. And while he will be watching college football Saturday instead of coaching, Dahlman said he will follow what transpires in Denver closely.”I’ll keep an eye on Faith Christian, and I hope they’ll do well,” Dahlman added. “I’ll let that be the gauge of how well we could’ve done at the state level.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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