Skiers get revenge against Rams
The revenge tour begins here – definitely.Aspen head volleyball coach Sarah Benson could agree on that Tuesday night, after her young team charged back from a deficit of two games to one to beat Roaring Fork in five, 23-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23 and 15-11.Before Tuesday’s breakthrough win, Aspen’s season – in a microcosm – had been defined by the previous loss to the Rams. The Skiers rolled off wins in the first two games of the first match between the two teams in Carbondale, only to suffer a huge collapse in the next three games and lose 3-2.The traumatic effects of that loss followed Aspen (3-5, 6-8) to rival Basalt on Saturday. The Skiers again went up by two games, only to have their hearts broken in five.It seemed the Skiers couldn’t finish tight games.Something finally clicked on Tuesday, however, after Aspen found itself on the verge of choking in the fourth game.The tipping point came when Aspen blew a 20-18 lead. The Skiers froze as the Rams went on a 5-2 run to take a 23-22 lead. Benson called a desperation timeout to settle her rattled squad. When Aspen broke the huddle, a different team took the floor. Same numbers. Same names. Different attitude. As the adage goes, the Skiers stopped playing not to lose and started playing to win.”Coach just said to swing your heart out,” junior outside hitter Hailey Ortmann said. “She said that’s all you can do.”Roaring Fork’s Ciarra Bristol served into the net, tying the game at 23. Ortmann then followed her coaches’ advice. She took a set on the right side of the net and slammed the ball into a block by Roaring Fork’s Erica Pelland. The deflected ball rolled on the top of the net, then dropped to the ground on the Rams’ side. The Skiers went to Ortmann again at game point. A high set led to another big swing, but the ball sailed high. Ortmann’s blast would have gone long – and out of bounds – but Roaring Fork outside hitter Kali Chestnut second-guessed where it was going to fall and stuck her arm out for a dig. The ball ricocheted off Chestnut’s arm, then flew out of bounds.Brimming with confidence, Aspen then dismantled the Rams in the 15-point tiebreaker. The Roaring Fork side was out of sorts and out of confidence as Aspen cruised to a 13-8 lead. The Rams pulled as close as 13-11 before Aspen played its two most complete points of the season.To get to 14-11, Aspen first dug a tip from dominant Roaring Fork outside hitter Sarah Armstrong, then blocked Armstrong, then blocked Chestnut. The second block finally ended the rally as the Rams never returned the deflected ball.To get to 15-11, Aspen junior middle hitter Megan Raczak didn’t hesitate on a 50-50 ball hovering above the net. Raczak dropped a well-placed tip out of reach of two Roaring Fork players. When the ball hit the ground, the Skiers hit the ceiling.”I don’t know what happened,” Ortmann said of the turnaround afterward. “We played Basalt on Saturday and they did the exact same thing. We were pissed about it. We owed [Roaring Fork] and we showed them who we really are. Obviously, we don’t win when we play tentatively.”Added junior outside hitter Brittany Zanin, “We’re becoming more of a team. We’re picking up the pace. We’re finally playing like we played last year.”Roaring Fork coach Karen Crownhart was surprised that the Skiers came back but then, she wasn’t. After her team struggled in the two teams’ first match, Crownhart still didn’t have an answer after Tuesday’s match as to why her team – typically buoyed by the overwhelming hitting of Armstrong and Chestnut – has struggled against Aspen this season.”It’s something about [Aspen],” Crownhart said. “We can’t get our offense going. This is not my team. Our offense is not good when we play [Aspen]. There’s something about Aspen that does that to us, and I don’t know what it is. It’s obviously them, not us.”The Skiers next face Basalt at home at 5 p.m. Saturday, exactly one week after the Rams rallied to win their homecoming match against the Skiers in five games.”[After the game], I said that this is a team you wanted redemption on. Now you’ve got it,” Benson said. “Then I said, ‘On Saturday, it’s Basalt, and you want it there, too.'”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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The Aspen High School ski team wrapped up its short and sweet regular season Friday with home races at Highlands. The Skiers hosted both a slalom and giant slalom on Thunderbowl, with an AHS athlete taking three of the wins.