Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Aspen volleyball is regional bound
The postseason push continues for local teams, although the numbers are beginning to dwindle.
Outside of football, which gets its playoffs underway this weekend, the only area team remaining from the fall season is the Aspen High School volleyball team. The Class 3A regional brackets were announced Monday, and the Skiers find themselves in the picture for the second straight year.
Aspen (17-6 overall) will compete in Region 6 as the No. 19 seed. Their three-team pool includes region host and No. 6 seed Valley, as well as No. 31 seed Salida.
All told there are 12 regions and 36 teams in regional play, with each of the 12 regional champions advancing to the state tournament.
Valley (16-7) is located just south of Greeley. While the Vikings record is technically worse than Aspen’s, they had a much stronger RPI because of their strength of schedule, which is the fifth hardest in the state. In comparison, Aspen had the 43rd most difficult schedule in 3A, despite having played only five of its 23 games at home.
Valley closed out its regular season on this side of the Rockies, which included a 2-0 win over Cedaredge, a team that edged Aspen out for second place in the 3A Western Slope League. The Vikings also recently beat Delta, 2-1, which finished fourth in the WSL, a spot behind the Skiers.
Valley is a bit of a volleyball powerhouse. The program almost always gets to 20 wins and even went 29-0 and won the state championship in 2012.
Salida (13-10) is No. 37 in strength of schedule but didn’t fare nearly as well as the other two teams in the pool. The Spartans limp into regional play having won only two of their last nine games, although their 13 wins is more than double what they had all of last season when they finished 6-16 overall. Salida won 19 games only two seasons ago.
Aspen’s regional is scheduled for Friday. Valley and Salida will get things going at 4 p.m., with Aspen vs. Salida being the second game and Aspen vs. Valley being the nightcap. Only one team will advance to the state tournament, which will be Nov. 8-10 at the Denver Coliseum.
Aspen went 0-2 at regionals last season when it was a lowly No. 34 seed and was missing a few players. The Skiers should actually have a fighting chance this time around.
The Basalt volleyball team did not make regional play, going 6-16 overall and finishing 63rd out of 73 teams in RPI. Unlike the senior-laden Skiers, Basalt was primarily sophomores and should continue to climb over the next few seasons.
Who will make a run in football?
The 2A football playoff bracket came out Sunday, with No. 12 seed Aspen slated to play at No. 5 Salida in the first round. No. 3 Basalt will get to host No. 14 D’Evelyn. Both games are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Skiers will have their hands full with Salida, whose lone loss came last week at No. 1 seed and defending state champion Bayfield. I think the Spartans win, but I also believe Aspen can pull off this upset if it can put the second half of the Basalt game behind them.
Basalt has what I can only guess is its highest seed in its state playoff history. Despite losing the WSL title to Rifle, which is seeded No. 7, CHSAA stuck with the RPI rankings for seeding, which favored the Longhorns. Basalt is set up well to make a run in this tournament, especially with the first two games guaranteed to be at home. Don’t be surprised if Basalt makes the state semifinals.
I’m not sure No. 11 Delta can pull the upset of No. 6 Platte Valley in the first round, but if it does it would make for a great second-round matchup between Basalt and its league foe. Although, to be fair, the last time BHS hosted D’Evelyn in the first round was 2016, and it lost. So, the Longhorns can’t be looking ahead.
Thankfully, the fans and sports writers can. Dream scenario? Basalt vs. Rifle in the state semifinals, and Basalt vs. Aspen for the state championship. Sure, this probably won’t happen, but it would be pretty cool if it did.
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Aspen’s Cassidy Jarrell was bumped up to the U.S. freeski A team for this coming winter season, which remains in limbo as coronavirus cases rise across the country.