Basalt outlasts rival Skiers in error-filled match |

Basalt outlasts rival Skiers in error-filled match

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Aspen players Ali Kerr and Mary Beasely guard the net from a hit by Basalt Player Annie Wells. Cassie Lewis Special to the Aspen Times

ASPEN – Clay Dahlman has seen this before.Saturday, his Aspen volleyball team won the first game in Olathe before dropping three straight, running its losing streak to 21 matches dating back to the start of last season.The Skiers were clicking early again Thursday against rival Basalt. Then, they unraveled.”This is very disappointing. … It’s like they give up hope or lose focus,” a visibly frustrated Dahlman said. “It’s like they win Game 1 and settle in and think they’re cruising.”The challenge for me is to help them keep their focus and not lose that intensity in Games 2 and 3.”The Longhorns rebounded from a tough first game Thursday, jumping out to a 19-6 lead in Game 2. They held off a late Skiers surge in Game 4 to clinch a 19-25, 25-13, 25-16, 27-25 win in a match filled with both drama and mistakes.”We need to get some more consistency,” said first-year Basalt head coach Mike Whittlef, whose squad improved to 1-2. “We need more blocks and more perfect passes. It all starts with a pass. … It’s going to come together.”Both teams clearly have work to do. With Aspen clinging to a two-point lead in the opening game, the Longhorns committed three consecutive miscues – the last two on shots that clipped the net. They managed to climb back into the game, however, when the Skiers let a ball drop, mishit a serve and botched a kill attempt. Aspen closed on a 6-2 run, however, and sealed the win when Basalt’s Stephanie Alvarado uncorked a kill that sailed well long.The Longhorns squared the match with a resounding Game 2 victory, then scored five straight points to break a 10-all tie in Game 3. During the stretch, Annie Wells hit a well-placed drop and blocked a Skiers shot, and Abby Norton and Emma Hepfinger produced kills.Aspen pulled to within three at 19-16, but its sloppy play caught up with it once more; of Basalt’s six straight points to close out the game, five came on Skiers errors.”It was not a pretty match,” Dahlman admitted.Still, the two rivals did produce some memorable moments – most notably a fight to the finish in a fourth game in which the teams shared the lead 10 different times.Norton drilled a kill through a block to give the Longhorns a 24-21 cushion, but Aspen spoiled three game points. After Basalt’s Emily Timroth hit a cross shot out of bounds, the Skiers took a 25-24 lead.It did not last. They misplayed a ball on the ensuing point, then Timroth hit an over-the-shoulder shot that landed in play, giving Basalt a 26-25 advantage. The Skiers’ Allie Garrett then clipped the net with a shot from the back line, clinching the Longhorns win.”If not for a few unfortunate errors, that game could’ve gone our way,” Dahlman said. “I whispered to one of my coaches, ‘Get me to Game 5.’ We would’ve been steamrolling again. The girls started getting that ferocity in their eyes again.”We let one slip away. … This is an emotional one, but we’ll keep pounding away.”