Longhorns spikers get even with third-ranked Gunnison
Basalt’s girls volleyball team felt as if it should have won its first meeting at Gunnison, if not for a few costly mistakes and some questionable officiating. The Horns didn’t get mad, however. They won their next eight games, then got even Saturday night at home with a five-game win against the third-ranked Cowboys, who came in a perfect 16-0.The win puts the ‘Horns in a two-way tie with Gunnison atop the 3A Western Slope standings. If both teams finish out the regular season without a loss, tiebreaker rules will come into play to sort out who wins the league crownBut both teams aren’t getting ahead of themselves. The Longhorns (15-1 overall, 10-1 league) face rival Aspen – who took them to five games – at Aspen on Tuesday. The Cowboys (16-1, 11-1) are at Aspen (11-4, 7-3) on Friday. Basalt faces Roaring Fork Friday, followed by its regular season finale against Cedaredge Saturday. The Cowboys close out the season Saturday at home against Hotchkiss .Basalt got off to a slow start in front of its largest home crowd of the season on Saturday, losing the first game, 25-17.”I knew they were nervous coming into this game,” head coach Dave Drodz said. “They were trying not to psych themselves out and play like they have been for the last few weeks. These girls put a lot of pressure on themselves and sometimes [they] make costly errors.” Gunnison’s defense was the key to the opening win. Basalt’s two best hitters – middle blocker Dayne Toney and outside hitter Bailey Holmes – were held to three kills apiece.The second game was a different story. The Longhorns attacked from the opening serve, took an early lead and forced the Cowboys to play catch-up in a 25-23 win.Elisabeth Nemiec served three aces and Toney found gaps in the Cowboys’ defense to tally eight kills. Holmes provided stellar defense with nine digs, while younger sister, Shelby Holmes, added seven digs.In the third game, the Longhorns took a two-point lead, only to let Gunnison back in the game with a handful of service errors, hitting mistakes and missed blocks. Both teams went back and forth, with the lead changing three times, before Basalt finally pulled away with another 25-23 win. Holmes finished with four kills in the win.On the ropes, Gunnison regrouped in the fourth game and thoroughly dissected the Longhorns in a 25-8 win to set up the fifth-game tiebreaker.With the match on the line, Drozd gathered his team together before the fifth game to get his players back on track.”This is it,” Drozd said. “We need to capitalize on our ability to get ahead quickly and stay there. I know you can do it.” Basalt did it, although it was anything but easy. The lead changed five times, and the game was knotted at 19 before Basalt took a one-point lead from a Cowboys’ service error. From there, Nemiec set up Toney with a short set in the middle of the net and the junior delivered the game winner, which ignited an eruption from the home crowd.Toney finished with a team-high 24 kills, with Shelby Holmes adding 13 and Bailey Holmes 11. Nemiec led the ‘Horns with three aces and 43 assists. Basalt also tallied 10 blocks as a team.
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