Basalt falls in districts, but eyes success in ’06
The Basalt girls volleyball team had reason to be confident heading into Saturday’s District tournament in Grand Junction.The Longhorns, ranked second in the slope after going 7-3 in their last 10 regular season matches, were eyeing one of the top two spots at districts to guarantee them a spot in the 3A state playoffs. It did not go exactly as planned, however.Basalt opened with a hard-fought, five-game defeat at the hands of rival Aspen. After a strong showing against Roaring Fork, the Longhorns had to contend with Hotchkiss, who went 12-0 in league play. Basalt took the Bulldogs to five games, but lost, and were eliminated from playoff contention.”At districts, we knew it would be tough to play Aspen,” Basalt head coach Erin Holmes said. “We have great respect for them and having played and beaten them twice in the league in two touch five-game matches, we knew it would be tough to do it a third time.”We played the most amazing volleyball of our season against the Bulldogs,” she added.The Longhorns defeated the Skiers in dramatic fashion in both of the team’s regular season battles, overcoming two-game deficits to win on Oct. 8 and Oct. 15. The two teams again needed a 15-point fifth set to decide the match. Aspen won the set, 15-13, and the match, 3-2. Basalt regained its composure to down Roaring Fork in four games, 25-20, 20-25, 25-12, 25-16. With setter and junior leader Elisabeth Nemiec out for the second game with a knee injury, the Longhorns lost by five. With Nemiec back in the next game, Basalt rebounded and controlled the match the rest of the way.Both Holmes and her players knew facing Hotchkiss with a playoff berth at stake was a tall task; The Longhorns were outscored 6-1 by the Bulldogs in two previous meetings. It was a challenge they were up for, however. After losing the first two sets, Basalt rallied to take the next two and force a deciding set. In the tie-breaker, they lost 15-9.Although Basalt suffered two losses in three matches Saturday, there is reason for optimism in Basalt. The Longhorns were the only team to take the Bulldogs to a fifth game in the conference all season. Despite the abrupt ending to 2005, 2006 looks promising.”Our team had a phenomenal season and we have no seniors,” Holmes said. “Everyone is coming back next year.”Basalt will be poised to challenge for the Western Slope crown next season. They return junior standout Bailey Holmes, a first team all-conference selection one year ago; both Nemiec and sophomore Dayne Toney received honorable mention.The Longhorns entered this season with six players who had previous experience on the varsity level. In 2006, they will have 11, including freshman Shelby Holmes and Heather Nemiec.”We are looking head to next year and we are coming back in tact,” Holmes said. “The depth on this team is strong. We have a lot of girls who love to play volleyball and it shows.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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