Volleyball: Basalt rallies, downs visiting VMS | AspenTimes.com

Volleyball: Basalt rallies, downs visiting VMS

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesBasalt's Annie Wells blocks an attempted kill from Vail Mountain School's Hanna McKeever (27) on Tuesday at Basalt High School.

BASALT – The Basalt volleyball team came out firing Tuesday night, scoring 10 of the first 11 points and coasting to a 12-point, Game 1 victory against visiting Vail Mountain School.

After the Longhorns opened Game 2 with 10 straight points, it looked as though the visiting Gore Rangers would be back on the bus in no time.

Then, the home team’s mistakes began to pile up. The violations and lifts. The short serves that clipped the net. The errant digs and kill attempts that wound up in the bleachers.

Consequently, Basalt found itself staring at a 2-1 deficit.

“They like to play cat and mouse,” first-year Longhorns head coach Mike Whittlef joked.

“We just let plays go and our momentum starts going down,” senior Annie Wells added. “We gave them runs when we shouldn’t have.”

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The Longhorns made a few runs of their own down the stretch. They rallied with a tight Game 4 win, then dominated the deciding game to pull out a 25-13, 24-26, 18-25, 25-20, 15-6 win in a match that lasted nearly two hours.

“They have a lot of heart,” Whittlef said. “These girls want it.”

That much was evident from the match’s first serve, as Basalt asserted itself at the net and clearly was the more aggressive team. The pressure produced six consecutive VMS errors during one stretch, giving the Longhorns a 10-1 lead. That advantage ballooned to as many as 13 in a decidedly one-sided opening game.

“It was amazing,” Whittlef said of the fast start. “We were producing killer blocks right away … and getting the momentum up.”

Basalt parlayed that momentum into a dominating opening few minutes in Game 2. They scored 10 straight and 12 of the first 14 points to seemingly seize control.

Undaunted, the Gore Rangers scored eight of the next nine points to pull to within three at 13-10. Later, they struck with five straight – highlighted by Kristina Bock’s powerful kill that went through two defenders – to pull to within two at 19-17.

They squared the match after consecutive Longhorns lifts.

VMS fought off a game point, then capitalized on two errant Basalt digs to win, 26-24, and pull even.

The Gore Rangers blew open a tight Game 3 with an 8-2 run to take a 2-1 lead.

“I was pleased with our response,” Gore Rangers head coach Mike Garvey said. “We even got in the driver’s seat. … Unfortunately, in those last two games we didn’t execute.”

The two sides shared the lead four times early in Game 4, then the Longhorns all but put things out of reach with a timely seven-point run, giving them a 20-12 cushion. VMS made things interesting, pulling to within four at 24-20 before falling.

Basalt pulled away in Game 5. They opened with six consecutive points against a visibly fatigued Gore Rangers side. VMS could pull no closer than four the rest of the way.

With the win, the Longhorns snapped a two-game skid and improved to 5-5 overall. They host rival Aspen at 6 p.m. Friday.

• Sophomore Willy Salamanca recorded his second hat trick of the season to lead the Basalt soccer team to a 7-0 rout of Colorado Rocky Mountain School on Tuesday afternoon in Carbondale.

The Longhorns, who have not lost since Sept. 9, improved to 7-2-1. They visit Hotchkiss at 11 a.m. Saturday.

• The Basalt softball team pounded 13 hits off Rifle starter Taylor Gore, scored 12 runs – seven coming in the third inning – and cruised to a 12-1 road win Tuesday in a game shortened to five innings because of the mercy rule.

“We were so proud. They played so well tonight,” Longhorns head coach Bruce Matherly said. “They made all the routine plays, were hitting line drives and the girls ran the bases very aggressively. It just paid off for us.”

Katie King allowed just two hits for the Longhorns, who improved to 11-5 and remain unbeaten in league play. They host a doubleheader with Gunnison at 11 a.m. Saturday. With one win this weekend, Basalt will clinch the 3A Western Slope crown.

“I think the most important thing is trying to stay playing at a relatively solid level like we did tonight,” Matherly said. “If we stay at this level, we’ll be pretty competitive going forward. … We want to get on a roll and we want to stay there.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com