Basalt spikers overcome shaky start, rally past Rams
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
BASALT ” After flattening the home Longhorns in the opening game of Thursday night’s rivalry match at Basalt, the young Roaring Fork Rams looked like a team ready to shake up the 3A Western Slope’s hierarchy.
Not so fast.
The Rams might have had more firepower at the front of the net, but the defending league champs ” despite losing a wealth of talent to graduation ” had more moxie and proved they are still the team to beat in the Slope. Behind a combined 25 kills from seniors Shelby Homes and Heather Nemiec, Basalt rallied for a momentum-swinging 25-21 win in the second game, and overcame two more slow starts to down the Rams in four (17-25, 25-21, 25-20, 27-25).
“We’re not a team to panic,” said Basalt coach Dave Drozd. “We lose a game, we figure out what adjustments we need to make and we make them. That’s what we did after the first game.”
Holmes’ calmness under pressure was visible in the clinching win, after Basalt found itself down, 24-22, and facing a possible fifth game. Drozd called a timeout to let his team regroup, then Holmes scored two of Basalt’s next three points.
Tied at 25, Longhorns senior libero Savanna Gustafson served an undiggable ace into the Rams’ front court, then followed with another tough serve.
The Rams managed to return it, but couldn’t return Basalt’s ensuing shot. After a wild series of hits, Rams junior Allie Zeigel hit an awkward pass into the net and the ball dropped to the floor, ending the suspense.
“Experience is something that’s invaluable and it just comes over time,” said first-year Rams coach Carrie Shultz. “We’ve got to take each day one at a time. Each game, each match.”
As Drozd can attest, Shultz has plenty to be optimistic about. With two impressive hitters in sophomores Niki Burns and Landon Garvik, the Rams proved they’ve got some good, young talent. The only thing Roaring Fork is lacking is varsity experience.
“It’s definitely going to be tougher to win this league,” Drozd said. “But this is only our second game and you can already see we’re growing as a unit. I have high hopes for this team. I really think we can win league this year.”
“I’m new to this league and the reputation of what people have done in the past doesn’t hold a lot of importance for me,” Shultz said. “This team’s really young, and for us right now, it’s a learning experience. You get to play everyone twice, and we get to go to tournaments and we need to be the best we’re going to be at the end of October. We’re getting better each day and we’ll have the experience hopefully at the end of October to come through in matches like this and win.”
Nemiec, who finished with seven kills and tied for two blocks with junior Kehau Vegas, said she was impressed by the way her teammates responded after getting beaten handily on their home floor in the opening game.
“I could not be more proud,” she said. “We’re playing amazing already, and I think as the season progresses we’re only going to get better.”
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