Gunnison edges Skiers spikers
Aspen’s girls volleyball coach Matt Bergdahl said his team played its best match of the season Saturday at Gunnison. The Skiers’ best, however, wasn’t enough to knock off the 3A Western Slope-leading Cowboys, who held off Aspen, 15-11, in the fifth-game tiebreaker to take the match.The Skiers got off to a sluggish start in the first game, trailing 2-9, before pulling within three points of the Cowboys. Aspen, unable to maintain its momentum, lost, 25-18.The Skiers (9-3 overall, 5-2 in the 3A Western Slope) regrouped and dominated the Cowboys in the second game with a 25-12 win. Aspen staked an early lead and never looked back; seniors Haley Ortmann, Brittany Zanin, Megan Raczak and Kyla Walter all forced Cowboys errors with deft hitting and serving.
Aspen also got off to a fast start in the third game, then had to hold off a late Gunnison charge to pick up a 25-20 win. The Skiers led 22-13 before the Cowboys went on a 7-2 run to pull within four points.With the game on the line, Kyla Walter gave the Skiers the win with a blast that sailed through an attempted block by the Cowboys’ front line.”[Our] play in Games 2 and 3 showed how dominating we can be,” Bergdahl said. “We played the best volleyball we have played all season.”
With the match on the line, Gunnison ran out to a 9-4 lead in the fourth game before Aspen rallied to tie the score at 14. Sophomore Elissa sparked Aspen’s offense with a huge kill.The game was tied six more times until Gunnison pulled away to pick up a 25-22 win and force the fifth-game tiebreaker. In that game, Gunnison jumped out to 5-0 lead before Aspen rallied back with five straight kills to tie the score. Senior setter Robin Landis keyed the run by setting up Aspen’s array of hitters with great balls at the net.
The Skiers couldn’t mount one final offensive push, however, to earn the upset. In spite of the loss, Bergdahl said he was satisfied with the overall performance of his team. “The team showed amazing poise,” he said. “All and all, though the final score didn’t show it, I felt we won the match.” “We finally played as tough as we knew we could,” added Kyla Walter.
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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.