Aspen volleyball rallies to knock off Glenwood in five sets to open season |

Aspen volleyball rallies to knock off Glenwood in five sets to open season

Aspen High School’s Maddie Lee, left, delivers the ball past a pair of Glenwood Springs volleyball players on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, inside the AHS gymnasium. The Skiers won, 3-2.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The names on the roster this fall look much the same as in the spring during the Aspen High School volleyball team’s delayed pandemic season. But, only a matter of months later, there are certainly differences elsewhere for the Skiers, and it showed in Thursday’s season opener.

“I feel like tonight we made a pivot of after the first few games having a lead, keeping a lead and giving the other team enough opportunity to mess up instead of us giving them points,” AHS coach Brittany Zanin said. “There is always going to be a little bit of ebb and flow, but I’m proud of them for flowing. This team is so good at the comeback train.”

Facing Glenwood Springs on Thursday inside the AHS gymnasium, Aspen found a way to win a wild 3-2 contest in one of the bigger wins for the program in a couple of seasons. The Demons, who play in Class 4A compared to Aspen in 3A, opened the match with a 25-18 set win before the Skiers rallied for a 25-22 win in the second set.

The third set again belonged to Glenwood, 25-15, but AHS found another gear from there. Aspen won the fourth set 25-18 and then controlled the fifth from the start, winning 15-10 to take the match.

“To set the pace for the season, I’m almost glad we went to five because they needed it,” Zanin said. “We are still in the process of figuring out who is going to be where, what we are going to do, but we are also going to mix it up, because for the first time in a long time I have a complete court of players. I’m not relying on any one single person right now. It’s such a great feeling.”

Aspen started a senior-laden group with Sadie Bayko, Laurel Yule, Riley Rushing and Reese Leonard all opening up the season on the court. Junior Avery Leonard and sophomore Maddie Lee — the team’s “quarterback” — rounded out the starting group.

The Skiers struggled through a tough spring season last school year, going a mere 3-11 in what was Zanin’s second season as the head coach. That included a 3-0 loss — 25-16, 25-20, 25-20 — to Glenwood Springs as recently as March 29. The Demons went 5-8 in the spring.

Glenwood and Aspen are hardly regulars in volleyball. In fact, prior to this past spring, the last time the teams had played was in 2008, a 2-1 win for the Skiers, according to the records kept on MaxPreps.

“They are a bigger school, but they are always a really strong team and they have really great club programs down that way,” Zanin, who is a 2007 AHS graduate, said of Glenwood. “They have a great program and it was never going to be easy and I’m really proud of (my players) for sticking it out.”

The Skiers now have a week off before hosting rival Basalt next Thursday. Most of the Longhorn players and coaches were in attendance for Aspen’s game with Glenwood. The BHS season starts Saturday with a trip to Gunnison.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.