Basalt volleyball wins sixth straight, tops Grand Valley in five sets on Tuesday

Basalt High School's Mackenzie Bauer, right, celebrates alongside Caitlyn Robinson after the Longhorns beat visiting Grand Valley in five sets on Tuesday.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

Most of the seven seniors on the Basalt High School volleyball team had to wait patiently for their turn on the court the past three seasons. Playing or not, those three seasons weren’t always fun for the Longhorns, logging a combined six wins from 2014-2016, five coming last season alone.

So, Tuesday’s 3-2 win over visiting Grand Valley (1-8 overall) was a big deal for those seniors. A win is always nice, but considering it was the team’s sixth win of the 2017 season, matching their win total from the past three seasons combined, it’s that much sweeter.

“This year, since we are seniors and we get to play, it’s just a great opportunity for us to capitalize,” BHS senior co-captain Kaylin Williams said. “We always expect to win every game, just because we want to go in positive, but I guess I didn’t believe we’d be this far this season.”

Basalt’s win Tuesday pushes it to 6-2 overall this fall after a 0-2 start. BHS volleyball hasn’t won six games in a season since going 6-13 in 2011. From 2012 through 2015, the team combined for only six victories, including a winless season in 2014.

Basalt hasn’t had a winning season since going 13-9 in 2008.

“It’s nice to see it pay off for them only because they work really hard. They wanted to have a good, successful season,” Basalt co-coach David Chadbourne said. “For this particular team, it’s been about accomplishing small goals, and they’ve had a history of not performing like they’d like to. And the goal tonight was to win this game at whatever cost.”

The Longhorns continue to break new ground almost every game this season. It started with their first win of the season, a sweep of valley rival Roaring Fork. The victory snapped an 18-game losing streak to the Rams, dating to 2008.

On Tuesday, the breakthrough was winning the fifth set of a match, something Basalt hadn’t done since beating Aspen High School 3-2 during the 2012 season.

“It’s super fun to play in general, but it’s super fun to win. It’s been years since we ever won the fifth set,” Williams said. “We’ve never been able to get the confidence to win. I think this was a huge changing point for us.”

Basalt won the first two sets of Tuesday’s match with Grand Valley, both by set scores of 25-23. But the team lost its rhythm after that, losing the third set 25-18 and fourth set 25-20 inside its own gymnasium.

“We started out really slow and that’s been a pattern for the season,” BHS senior co-captain Caitlyn Robinson said. “But we ended really strong and it was a really good win for us. I’m really happy we got our confidence back at the end there.”

The team’s swagger came back in the fifth set. After a Grand Valley point made it 6-5 in favor of BHS, the Longhorns finished out the match by scoring the final nine points for a 15-5 win, their sixth straight win of the season.

Basalt’s schedule cranks up from here. BHS will host Cedaredge (7-3) on Saturday and still has to face powerhouse Coal Ridge as well as a rematch with currently unbeaten Aspen.

“This team crosses a lot of hurdles and we kind of check them off as we go,” Chadbourne said. “Sometimes they are kind of their own worst enemies. But to go to 6-2 has been really good for them. We are really proud of them.”

Aspen 3, Roaring Fork 0

Speaking of surprise success, Aspen moved to 7-0 on the season after Tuesday’s 3-0 win at Roaring Fork. The Skiers haven’t finished above .500 since going 12-10 in 2008. They were 11-11 in 2016. Aspen will face its toughest test of the fall on Thursday when it plays at fellow unbeaten Coal Ridge.