Skiers spikers implode, fall to Cowboys
ASPEN Aspen’s spikers proved Saturday that they can hold their own against a good team like Gunnison. The Skiers also proved – yet again – that they have a confidence problem.How else to explain a dominating 25-13 win in the opening game – highlighted by a closing 10-0 run -followed by a befuddling loss in the second game in which Aspen managed only 10 points?The Skiers never recovered from their Game 2 swoon, falling in four games to the Cowboys (25-13, 10-25, 13-25, 15-25).”I don’t know how to explain it,” first-year Skiers coach Jen Schrock said. “I think it’s something that we have to overcome. We do it every single game. Even if we win, we lose momentum. We did amazing in the first game, attitude, playingwise – I mean everything was on. Then they came out and absolutely lost it. I have no explanation.”If there’s one explanation for Aspen’s stumbles, it’s lack of communication and unforced errors, said junior captain Kylie Westerlind.The Skiers (1-10 overall, 1-5 in the 3A Western Slope) surrendered 12 points in the second game solely off their own mistakes, including five shots into the net, five shots that sailed wide, one serve into the net and one called lift.”I think we need to work on passing because everything starts with passing,” Westerlind said. “We just need to work as a team together. We’re all friends and we get along in practice and out of school and everything, I just think we need to learn how to mesh with each other and learn each other’s playing better.” The story on the other side of the net couldn’t have been more different as Gunnison, after getting chewed out for its sloppy performance in Game 1, played relatively mistake-free volleyball in its ensuing three wins.Cowboys coach Shana Benson said there’s a reason for that.”We look at stats every Monday morning after the weekend, and we give out punishment for errors,” Benson said. “It’s physical punishment, whether it’s running in practice or the type of workout we do. The girls know, ‘Oh my God, if I do this, I’m going to have to run.'”Gunnison (7-5, 4-3 in 3A Western Slope) opened the second game with a 5-0 run and led by as much as 22-5. Aspen managed five more points before Gunnison’s Kelsey Huckle hammered home the game-winner – one of four kills in the game.Aspen came out stronger in the third game, trailing only 13-10 before Gunnison went on an 8-1 run keyed by two aces from the Cowboys’ Kaitie Vader. Vader and Huckle did most of the damage at the front of the net against the Skiers, but because of the contributions of other Cowboys like Devanie Helman and Nicole Ayers, the Skiers couldn’t hone in on shutting down one or two players.”What we try to do, because we don’t have any big people, we run a lot of plays because we have to,” Benson said. “We don’t have the big standout hitter. We work really hard on tracking balls down that go to the other side of the floor and still being able to make the play. That’s really key to our offense, anyone being able to step up and run quick plays that the other teams aren’t running.”The fourth game was also relatively close at the outset, before Gunnison, up 14-9, pulled away with a 9-4 run. Aspen looked to regain some life when Westerlind and senior Megan Jonsson teamed up for a big block on Huckle to score Aspen’s 13th point, but Gunnison then reeled off four straight points.”These girls make one error, and they get so down on themselves that they can’t bring themselves back out of it,” Schrock said. “It’s not necessarily girls getting angry with each other, it’s them getting so mad at themselves that they break down. And when one person breaks down on the court, that means everyone is going to do it as well.”The Skiers host Coal Ridge at 6 p.m. Tuesday.Basalt wins againOne night after getting taken to five games for just the second time this season, Basalt was back to its usual dominant self Friday night at home against Cedaredge.The Longhorns rolled to a three-game win (25-15, 28-26, 25-14) to earn their eighth sweep this season and improve to 13-0.Basalt next plays at Hotchkiss at 6 p.m. Tuesday.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com.
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