Volleyball: Basalt spoils Aspen’s home opener
September 12, 2012
ASPEN – Basalt volleyball players took it upon themselves to practice twice Monday.
They were committed to putting a sluggish 1-4 start behind them. They were committed to being prepared for their road showdown against rival Aspen.
The extra work paid dividends Tuesday night. The Longhorns pulled out tight victories in the first two games and overcame a period of lackluster play to top the Skiers, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 25-23.
“They’ve really been working hard,” first-year Basalt head coach Brittany Spangler said. “We have this one rule called ‘Pursue.’ It’s about going for everything. They really showed that tonight.”
The two sides shared the lead nine times during a tense, mistake-filled first game. The Longhorns’ Ana Morales squared things at 22 with a timely kill, sparking a
4-0 run that helped the visitors strike first. Teammate Maggie Morling finished things off by drilling a shot through a wall of defenders.
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A slew of mistakes and an inability to link passes and generate chances at the net hindered Aspen in Game 2. The Skiers (3-6) squandered an early 4-1 lead and later committed three consecutive miscues to give Basalt a five-point cushion.
After an Aspen kill sailed long, the Longhorns took a commanding two-game advantage.
“I saw a lot of girls getting the elbow high on the ball, which allows them to hit the ball straight down,” Spangler said. “The girls were reading the ball better and were able to get in position for digs. I saw a lot of passion and a lot of heart.”
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the offensive firepower going when we needed it. If it was, the result would’ve been totally different,” Aspen head coach Clay Dahlman said. “We ended up giving them tons of free-ball practice.”
The Skiers showed signs of life in Game 3, closing on a 6-0 run capped by a well-placed shot from Libby Dowley that extended the match.
Basalt made sure things would be decided in four. The opportunistic Longhorns jumped out to 5-2 and 12-5 advantages and led by as many as eight in the fourth game.
They appeared to tighten up down the stretch, allowing Aspen to rally and pull to within one, but the Longhorns managed to hang on.
“It was a little close there at the end,” Spangler said, “but they pulled through. They truly wanted to win this.”
“This is the toughest Basalt team we’ve seen in a few years, and congrats to them,” Dahlman added. “It’s way too early in the season for setbacks. … We’ve got another matchup with them, and I know we’ll play better. I know they’re going to have a tough time against us.”
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