Dig this: Dayne Toney making the leap to D-I | AspenTimes.com

Dig this: Dayne Toney making the leap to D-I

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

BASALT ” Dayne Toney was willing to give up volleyball for the college of her dreams.

Turns out she won’t have to.

Toney, who won 12 varsity letters while starring in three sports at Basalt High School, is making the jump to the Division I volleyball ranks thanks to a homemade video, a doting mother and a head coach willing to take a chance on a small-town player with big potential.

After watching Toney’s skills tape, University of California at Santa Barbara volleyball coach Kathy Gregory offered Toney the chance to walk on for the Gauchos in August.

Toney had been recruited to play volleyball by smaller-division schools, but fell in love with UCSB during a campus visit, and decided she wanted to attend the seaside California school whether she got the chance to play. Toney personally thought that chance was nonexistent until her mother mailed her videotape.

Gregory, a former basketball player herself, was impressed enough by Toney’s athleticism and quickness that she extended her the invite to join the team.

“I’m really nervous, because it’s going to be a totally different ball game,” Toney said. “I’m pretty excited at the same time.”

Toney, a wiry, agile middle blocker who stands 6 feet tall is the first volleyball player from Basalt to play Division I and the fourth in recent years to do so from the Roaring Fork Valley. Former Aspen High star Lizzie Suiter won a national title in 2005 while playing at Stanford, and former Glenwood Springs’ standouts Leah Hinkey and Amber Sutherland both went on to play at Division I programs. Hinkey is currently playing for the University of Tennessee while Sutherland finished her career at CU in 2007.

To prepare for her first Gauchos team camp, Toney has been working out daily at the Aspen Club Sports Performance Center with trainer Bill Fabrocini to improve her speed, agility and vertical leap.

What Toney lacks in polish, she hopes to make up for with her athleticism and determination.

“The coach at UCSB told me that I’m blue collar,” Toney said. “That I’m really raw and that they’re going to work with me to increase my vertical. She said I have a lot of potential.”

Arguably the best female athlete among a talented senior class, Toney was instrumental in Basalt’s string of state playoff runs during the past two years. As a goalie in soccer, she helped the Longhorns to the state semifinals during her junior year. In basketball, Toney led the Longhorns in scoring last season, which ended with a return trip to state. The team finished fifth after a 3A runner-up finish in 2007.

On the volleyball court, Toney was at her most dominant ” despite being snubbed for 3A Western Slope player of the year honors as a senior.

Last fall, her 361 kills were near the top of 3A. She also racked up 83 solo and assisted blocks and led the Longhorns with 345 digs.

“She was an incredibly dominant force,” Basalt coach Clay Dahlman told The Aspen Times in November. “She proved she is in a league with the best players in the state.”

Toney said her fondest athletic memory from high school was making it all the way to the 3A state championship game in basketball in 2007. She’ll miss playing with the group of classmates she teamed with for Basalt’s deep playoff runs, although the bond forged in practices and games over the years will always be there, Toney said.

“We’ve still been hanging out over the summer and we still all kind of work out together,” Toney said. “We all stay athletic, we all stay in shape. When we get together, we’re usually doing something.”

Toney is listed as a middle blocker on the Gauchos’ roster, although she said she would be open to playing any position on the floor. She’s just happy to have the chance to continue playing her favorite sport.

“When I was looking at schools, volleyball was kind of a priority, but then I just fell in love with UCSB,” she said. “I chose going to school there over volleyball. Now that I get to play volleyball, I get the whole package.”


Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User