Rams top Basalt in finale | AspenTimes.com

Rams top Basalt in finale

Roaring Fork's Erica Pelland elevates for a spike against Basalt Saturday at the BHS Bighouse. Rams player Carley Valesquez looks on. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

Despite playing a number of reserves, Roaring Fork’s volleyball team held off Basalt in a five-set match Saturday at the BHS Bighouse to finish the regular season undefeated in the Class 3A Western Slope League.”We probably could have gotten out a little easier,” Roaring Fork head coach Karen Crownhart said about playing reserves. “But in case something happens [in the future], we’ll need those guys to have experience and step up.”The Lady Rams finished the season at 14-3 overall and a perfect 12-0 in league.”I don’t know when the last time it was we went undefeated,” Crownhart said. “But it hasn’t happened for a while.”Basalt finished at 11-7 overall and 5-7 in league.

The Rams got off to a fast start Saturday winning the first two games by identical scores – 25-15. Perhaps the Lady Longhorns were still asleep, as they didn’t return home from a Friday match at Gunnison until after midnight. Nevertheless, they awoke in the third set for a match-saving 26-24 win.Basalt continued to roll in the fourth game and drew a final fifth set after a 25-22 win.The Longhorns took an 11-8 lead in the fifth set but that’s where Basalt’s scoring stopped as the Rams stormed back for a 15-11 win.”It was a great match by my girls, I’m really stoked the way they played,” said Basalt head coach Billy Miller. “It was one of the best volleyball matches I’ve seen all season.”But [Roaring Fork] pushed through and that’s why they’re league champions.”Both teams look identical on paper, at least in terms of youth, as neither team has more than two seniors and the starting lineup is dominated by underclassmen.

Freshman Dayne Toney and sophomore Bailey Holmes lead the Longhorns, and both played solid on Saturday.”[Toney] finds the court with every ball, and she’s always making the smart choice,” Miller said. “And now she’s also hitting the ball hard.”As for Holmes: “Her passing, hitting, serving – it’s all consistent.”Crownhart said different girls lead in different games, but she pointed to senior Carley Valesquez, junior Sarah Armstrong and sophomore Erica Pelland as her standouts.She added that Valesquez, who is the team’s setter, brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the young team.

“She is so smart, she keeps the team together,” Crownhart said.Both teams have a week to prepare for the district tournament, scheduled for this weekend in Grand Junction.By winning the league outright, however, the Rams have secured a spot in the regional tournament beyond districts, but that doesn’t mean they’re taking districts lightly.”Our goal is to win [districts],” Crownhart said.If they do, they’ll play the all-important role of host during regionals.”I feel pretty good, we’re confident,” she added.

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