Basalt spikers prevail, stay perfect
CARBONDALE – Basalt’s Heather Nemiec stepped up. Literally.The Longhorns’ Game 3 lead in Tuesday’s match at Roaring Fork had been whittled to one after the Rams strung together six consecutive points. With the prospect of a fourth game looming against a game Roaring Fork squad who lost the match’s first two games by just 11 combined points, Nemiec put an end to the rally. The junior leaped up and spiked the ball down the right sideline; a sprawling Rams defender could do little more than deflect the ball out of play.The point sparked a 4-0 run that sealed the 25-20 victory and 3-0 sweep for the defending Western Slope champions.
“I didn’t want to slam it because I had missed two right before, so I wanted to place it for a sideout,” Nemiec said. “It was a little nerve-wracking, but we pulled through.” The win helped the Longhorns (6-0 overall, 2-0 3A Western Slope) extend their impressive season-opening win streak. Basalt went 5-0 Saturday en route to winning the Machebeuf Tournament for consecutive years. Along the way, the Longhorns avenged a loss to Classical Academy, which topped Basalt at last year’s state tournament, outlasted 4A Fossil Ridge, and swept Machebeuf in the finals. The championship win was poignant for a number of Longhorns, who were members of the school’s basketball team that lost to Machebeuf in the state championship earlier this year in Fort Collins. Basalt’s strong start is in stark contrast to Tuesday’s match, where it trailed at the beginning of all three games. “The girls were tired, and I don’t think we were fired up 100 percent,” first-year Longhorns coach Clay Dahlman said. “I’m concerned with the lapses. This wasn’t our strongest performance, but a win is a win.”
The Longhorns, who played 14 games in their five matches Saturday, were sluggish at the onset Tuesday, as Roaring Fork opened with three consecutive points. Basalt proved resilient, however, rebounding with an 8-1 run, fueled by a host of Rams errors and two well-placed kills from senior Dayne Toney. The Longhorns’ lead ballooned to as many as 8 in its 25-19 victory.Roaring Fork, playing its first match in its new high school gym, took advantage of an errant Basalt serve to pull ahead in a hard-fought Game 2 in which the teams were tied six times. Nemiec came up with a spike to break a 17-17 tie, starting a 3-0 run. The Longhorns clinched the game moments later on kills from Toney and Kat Fitzpatrick. “The girls had a lot of anxiety with this being the first home game – they were literally shaking,” Roaring Fork coach Sarah Hyatt said. “Their hearts were just so in it. This is huge for our confidence to be able to catch up and play point for point with them.”Roaring Fork, who finished last in the Slope in 2006, opened the third game with an ace. Its 2-0 lead was short-lived, however, as another timely Toney kill, a passing shot that sailed long and some miscommunication from the Rams fueled a 5-0 Longhorns run.
Basalt, winners of 31 of its last 36 matches, wouldn’t trail again. The Rams tied the score at 7, but Nicole Booth responded with a kill up the middle of the Roaring Fork defense. Booth and Nemiec teamed up for a block to break a 9-9 tie. The Rams pulled to within one at 21-20, but Nemiec’s spike ended all hopes of a comeback.”Any team in this league can come out and beat us if we lose focus, intensity and drive,” Dahlman said. “[Roaring Fork] was tough. They gave me a good scare.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.