Longhorns spikers sweep Hotchkiss
Basalt volleyball coach Dave Drozd could not sit on his hands any longer.Moments after watching his team squander yet another comfortable lead in the third game of Saturday’s 3A Western Slope match with visiting Hotchkiss, Drozd called the team’s first time out. The Longhorns, who led 18-13 and were just seven points away from completing a three-game sweep, had their lead shrink to one. In a short exchange with his players, he urged them to finish strong.They listened. Basalt came out of the break and won five consecutive points. It took advantage of an errant Bulldogs serve and some strong play at the net to seal Game 3 and match win, 3-0.”Overall we played decent, but we had some flaws,” Drozd said. “We kept bailing ourselves out and came through.”
The Longhorns (10-1 overall, 5-1 overall), who swept Cedaredge Friday, looked stale at the onset Saturday. The smaller Bulldogs capitalized on a block at the net, a Basalt serve that sailed long and a couple of Longhorns ball handling errors to open up a 5-1 advantage. Basalt junior Dayne Toney’s strong kill on the ensuing play, however, helped spark a 5-1 Longhorns run that tied the game. Toney had five kills in the first game, and her last clinched the 25-21 win. It was a game in which Basalt could not pull away. The two teams were tied three separate times – the last coming at 19 all – and the Longhorns largest lead was just four. Basalt, leading by three at 19-16, had a serve sail wide then hit consecutive shots into the net.”We had an up and down game, but we were confident the whole way that we’d pull it out,” senior Liz Nemiec said. “We had a few let-downs where we were struggling to find our intensity.”The ebbs and flows continued in Game 2. Basalt jumped out to a quick 4-1 lead after Nemiec blocked a shot, delivered a serve that could not be controlled and assisted on a Toney kill. Following two Hotchkiss shots that clipped the net, the Longhorns had a commanding 13-4 advantage.
That lead was trimmed to four as the two teams continued to trade scores. Hotchkiss capitalized on four Longhorns errors during a 5-0 run that cut into the deficit. When they sensed trouble, however, Basalt responded with three aces – one by sophomore Shelby Holmes and two from senior Bailey Holmes – to win the match, 25-21.”In the clutch, this team does pull through,” Nemiec said.Toney opened the third game with three consecutive kills as Basalt took a commanding 6-0 lead. The momentum was quelled, however, when Hotchkiss answered with a 6-2 run. The Bulldogs took advantage of some lucky bounces to pull to within one at 17-16. When one Hotchkiss defender attempted to control a low Basalt serve, the ball ricocheted sharply off her palm and shot towards nearby Amanda Orr. In desperation, Orr lifted a hand to shield her head and hit a shot that dropped in between a host of Longhorns defenders. Hotchkiss followed with three consecutive kills. Drozd was forced to call a timeout.In the points that followed, the Longhorns displayed their prowess at the net. Bailey Holmes went up high to put away a soft crossing shot, senior Sam Christensen fooled a wall of Hotchkiss defenders when she dropped a soft shot to a vacant spot on the court.
Two Hotchkiss ball handling errors sealed a 25-19 Basalt victory. The match win is the Longhorns’ fourth in a row following their 3-1 loss to league-leading Gunnison on Sept. 22.”This is a 3-0 win, any way you look at it,” Drozd said. “We’re playing well and moving in a positive direction.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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