Ortmann, Walter net recognition from league coaches
The Aspen girls volleyball team had only two players selected for postseason honors by opposing league coaches this fall. That should change next year.
After a forgettable 2004 season in which the team failed to win one league game, the junior-laden Skiers built a foundation for success in 2005 with six wins in the 3A Western Slope. Included in that list were huge wins over downvalley rivals Roaring Fork and Basalt at the district tournament in Grand Junction. The Skiers finished the season 11-9 overall.
Next year, Aspen returns seven seniors ” all of whom played significant roles in this year’s rebuilding campaign. The only player lost to graduation is senior defensive specialist Elyse Boelens.
Aspen’s lone all-league selection was outside hitter Haley Ortmann, whom first-year Skiers head coach Sarah Benson described as a “do everything” player.
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Ortmann’s versatility meant that she was a key part of Aspen’s offense at the front of the net and a reliable defender in the back row.
“She played all the way around for us,” Benson said. “She picked up balls in the back row and she was one of the people we counted on to put the ball away for us.”
The Skiers also counted on Ortmann for morale, especially when the team got into tight spots. Before Aspen beat Basalt at districts, the Skiers had lost two close five-game matches to the Longhorns. Ortmann was a player who could provide a spark with a great dig or a big kill, Benson said.
Opposing league coaches also took notice of junior middle blocker Kyla Walter, who earned an honorable mention selection.
Benson, who has coached Ortmann and Walter since the two were freshmen, noted that Walter definitely improved her play at the front of the net this season.
“As far as blocking was concerned , she stuffed a lot of blocks this year,” Benson said. “She’s always been good at getting a hand on balls and deflecting balls, but I think more than ever she was putting ball away with her block this year.”
An aggressive block was only half of Walter’s contribution to the team this fall. The junior was also a solid hitter up front.
“She really came through hitting through those hard angles around the other middle blockers,” Benson said.
The number of postseason awards allotted to each team is determined by league record. While Benson said she was pleased with the recognition her team received, she did admit she felt Boelens should have been honored for a superb senior season in the back row.
“I think sometimes the defensive specialist gets overlooked,” Benson said. “They’re not at the front of the net hitting the ball or getting blocks, so people forget how important they are. At districts, she was all over the court making plays. She had a great year.”
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