Longhorns spikers overcome butterflies, Titans in opener
For three games Thursday night against Coal Ridge, Basalt’s volleyball team looked every bit like a viable contender for a return to the 3A state tournament. Sandwiched between those three wins, however, were two losses that the Longhorns would just as soon forget.Basalt blew a commanding two-game lead in its season opener and had to go the full five, rubbing out a possible Coal Ridge upset with a decisive 15-9 win in the final game. There’s no need to fret – it’s only the first match, first-year coach Clay Dahlman said of his team’s 25-18, 25-18, 19-25, 19-25, 15-9 win.”You probably attribute it a little bit to butterflies and also Coal Ridge picking up their game a little bit in the end,” Dahlman said. “I was really impressed with the play in the first two games, but there’s a number of things that we have to put together, which is pass and going aggressive with our offense. … Once we can do those, we can prove that we’re a really strong team, but it’s just a matter of putting those together.”Basalt used pinpoint serving and strong play at the front of the net to pull away at the end of the first two games.Longhorns junior Heather Nemiec served up five straight points – including two straight aces – during a 6-1 run to close out the first, and dug a Coal Ridge blast to set up senior Dayne Toney for the game-winner in the second.Toney, a 3A Western Slope first-team selection in 2006, picked up right where she left off last season, leading Basalt with 27 kills while playing every minute of all five games.See Spikers on page A19It could have been more if Basalt didn’t struggle with its passing in its two losses.”All of us were so nervous, and it was just first-game jitters, I guess,” Toney said. “We couldn’t quite pull it together.”Junior outside hitter Chloe Nelson keyed Coal Ridge’s comeback. Nelson staked the Titans to an early 3-1 lead in the third game and continued to blast away, finishing with five kills and two aces in the win.”She’s a great player, but you know, she’s only in the front row half the time, so we’ve got to have some more people step up and be ready to play,” Titans coach Denise Green said. “I’m proud of how we played, but we came in absolutely expecting to win. That’s how we’re going to approach every match.” In the fourth, both teams were tied at 11 before Basalt killed its chances for victory with a host of hitting and serving mistakes. After a kill from Coal Ridge senior outside hitter Callie Schlegel put the Titans up, 24-19, Basalt failed to return the ensuing serve.In the fifth, Basalt wasn’t taking any more chances. With the teams tied at seven, Nemiec provided the spark the Longhorns needed, digging up a shot that the Titans were already celebrating – thinking it had already hit the ground – and sending it back over the net for a point. Senior Alia Munger followed with an ace, and Toney added a kill to give Basalt a 10-7 lead. Junior Shelby Holmes finished off the Titans with her fourth kill of the game, a huge blast off a set from sophomore Kehau Vegas. “Everything finally clicked in that fifth game,” Toney said. “We started getting passes, and good passes lead to good hits.”Basalt (1-0 overall) next plays Saturday at the Machebeuf tournament, which it won last year.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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