Champions dethroned: Titans topple Basalt |

Champions dethroned: Titans topple Basalt

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

BASALT ” Basalt volleyball’s reign as champion of the 3A Western Slope is over.

League-leading Coal Ridge silenced the Basalt High School gym early Friday and cruised to the three-game sweep (25-11, 25-17, 25-21) to win its six straight match and improve to 14-0 in conference.

With the loss, the Longhorns dropped to 12-4 overall and 9-4 in league play. They have just three matches remaining and therefore will not be able to defend as regular-season league champions.

Basalt head coach Dave Drozd could not be reached for comment after Friday’s match.

All momentum the Longhorns gained from Tuesday’s win over Hotchkiss and all hopes they had of coming out a winner in their final home match were dashed early. The Titans broke open a 5-all game with an 8-1 run capped by a well-placed dump from Kaitlin Moeller and a Jessica Needham ace.

Senior Chloe Nelson’s kill later stretched the lead to 16-9 and sparked an 8-0 run that all but sealed a Game 1 win. After an errant serve, Basalt junior Ashley Soucie’s kill attempt sailed long and wide on game point.

The two teams shared the lead five different times to open the second game. Nelson took over, however, converting three consecutive kills to give her team a 15-12 lead. Later, she soared and pounded a loose ball to the hardwood to extend the advantage to eight. Basalt briefly pulled to within five at 22-17 after a net violation and Nelson’s attempted dig that clipped the net, but it could get no closer. Kelly Romero’s ace sealed a second Coal Ridge win.

Seemingly unfazed, the Longhorns gave the Titans all they could handle during a hotly-contested final game. Neither team led by more than four points and both shared the lead nine different times. Basalt took advantage of five consecutive Coal Ridge errors at the net to erase a four-point deficit and take a 20-19 lead.

After an errant serve and a Nelson kill tipped the match in the Titans’ favor, Longhorns senior Heather Nemiec converted a well-timed kill on the left side to tie the game.

From there, however, Basalt unraveled. One player was whistled for a net violation, then a Soucie kill attempt sailed wide and another player’s dump clipped the net and landed out of bounds. Nelson provided the exclamation point, drilling a perfect set right down the middle of the court to seal the 25-21 win and the sweep ” Coal Ridge’s second this season against the Longhorns.

It took the Titans little more than 50 minutes to roundly dispatch the reigning champions and complete a changing of the guard of sorts.

With two matches remaining in the regular season, Coal Ridge holds a 11⁄2-game lead over second-place Gunnison. The Cowboys, who dispatched Cedaredge on Friday night, have three games remaining, including an Oct. 18 match at Coal Ridge that could decide the league championship.

Basalt, firmly entrenched in third place, visits Gunnison Saturday before closing with matches in Aspen and Cedaredge on Tuesday and Friday, respectively.

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