Basalt spikers head to regionals
BASALT Basalt volleyball coach Clay Dahlman lauds his team’s ability to perform on the road.The Longhorns have another chance to prove it Saturday. And this time, the season will be on the line.By virtue of its loss to Olathe at districts, Basalt will not host a regional tournament despite posting the best record of any qualifier. Instead, the Longhorns will travel to Arvada to face off with a perennial postseason power, a team that knocked off the 3A’s top squad and a conference champion.”It looks like a bit of a tough draw,” Dahlman said Tuesday. “We all knew the competition all along was going to be tough. This is the final 16 teams in the state. There’s not an easy draw.”This time around, they’ll be competing with host Faith Christian – the state’s third-ranked team – Roosevelt and Platte Canyon. Two teams from each of the 3A’s four four-team regions will earn state tournament berths.Faith Christian (20-4), which finished second to Holy Family in the hotly contested 3A Metro, has won 16 of its past 17 matches. The Eagles, an annual fixture at the state tournament, are 3-2 against teams that made the regional field.Expect Faith Christian to pose a threat on the front line; three Eagles have racked up 142 or more kills.Roosevelt (15-6) finished second in the Patriot League’s east division. The Roughriders were 8-2 in conference play – both losses came to Valley, the state’s top-ranked team. Roosevelt beat the Vikings on Oct. 4 in a five-game thriller. Platte Canyon (19-4) was 14-0 en route to capturing the Frontier title. The Huskies, the 14th overall seed, beat No. 7 The Academy twice during the regular season. They are coming off back-to-back losses at districts, however. Basalt was stung at districts, too, fumbling its opportunity to play at home this weekend. But Dahlman is confident his players are looking ahead, not back.”We recognized through two losses that if we’re not playing our best, we’re a little bit vulnerable,” Dahlman said. “It was a hangover for me. … I’m sure it was a tough ride back [from Grand Junction] for everybody. As a coach, I see a certain benefit to losing. It only makes you realize you have to fight harder.”The girls came to practice [Monday] with renewed vigor and focus. They hate to lose. When you only lose twice, you don’t get used to it, and it doesn’t feel good. They’ve proved they can bounce back quickly.” The Longhorns swept their way to a regional title and the school’s first state berth in nearly 30 years last fall after beating Lamar, Middle Park and Platte Valley. This year, Basalt reeled off eight straight wins after an Oct. 5 loss at Coal Ridge. Three on Saturday would clinch a trip to state Nov. 9-10. Basalt is 0-4 all time in state tournament play.Which Longhorns team shows up at Faith Christian remains a question. Basalt was its dominant self during three sweeps on Day 1 of the district tournament. On Day 2 against Olathe, however, the Longhorns weren’t aggressive on their offensive sets and committed 30 digging errors. The Pirates, who finished third in the Slope’s regular-season standings, pulled out the 3-1 victory to claim the district title. As a result, they secured the No. 4 seed for regionals.”The loss against Olathe was an eye-opener,” Dahlman said. “The girls realize more than anything they have to play their best volleyball to go on. Anything can happen. … We’re going into [regionals] fully loaded, healthy, excited, focused and intense.”The road back to the Denver Coliseum begins Saturday.”The girls have their blinders on and are focusing on playing their best,” Dahlman said. “Although [state] hasn’t been our admitted goal, the girls are beginning to realize how close they are and how badly they want it.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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