Aspen spikers avenge previous losses to Basalt at districts
The volleyball season is officially over for both local high school teams after each failed to finish first or second at the district tournament Saturday in Grand Junction.The ride home for both teams, however, couldn’t have been more different. While Aspen celebrated its first win over downvalley rival Basalt and its second against Roaring Fork, Basalt was left to wonder what went wrong on the final day of the season.The Longhorns entered the district tournament as the third-best team in the 3A Western Slope, tied with Roaring Fork with a conference record of 8-4. The Skiers entered districts with a conference record of 6-6 – tied with Gunnison in the conference standings. None of that mattered Saturday. Aspen knocked off Basalt in five games, then swept Roaring Fork to advance out of its pool to play Gunnison in a cross-over match.Had the Skiers won the match against Gunnison, Aspen would have earned a regional berth. Instead, the Cowboys avenged a previous 3-2 loss to the Skiers on Oct. 22 with a three-game sweep.First-year Aspen head coach Sarah Benson said, in spite of the loss to Gunnison, that her team couldn’t have been happier after all was said and done. In the two previous matches against Basalt this season, Aspen took the Longhorns to five games, only to lose in the sudden-death tiebreaker.To finally finish with a win against the Longhorns was the sweetest revenge.”I don’t know that I’ve seen them play better all season,” Benson said. “They played great against Basalt. They served hard and they passed exceptionally well and started to put the ball away.”Benson said the Skiers’ most valuable player Saturday was senior defensive specialist Elise Fornell. The head coach also singled out the play of juniors Kyla Walter and Haley Ortmann at the front of the net.”Elise was all over the court,” Benson said. “She was everywhere. She played every game like it was her last.”Benson did not have the game scores for Saturday’s matches. Results were also not available on the CHSAA (Colorado High School Activities Association) website at press time.It was also not known at press time which team earned the top seed out of the district for Saturday’s regional. Gunnison and Hotchkiss were still playing the championship match when the Aspen coach and her team got on the bus for the trip home.Basalt coaches Dave Drozd and Erin Holmes did not return calls for this story.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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