Titans extend Aspen volleyball’s losing streak

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Mary Beasley spikes the ball over the net while Coal Ridge's Jessica West goes for the block.

ASPEN – It takes a lot to leave Clay Dahlman speechless. But as his team’s losses continue to pile up, Aspen’s volleyball coach is struggling to find answers.

“I don’t know how to teach will,” Dahlman said after Tuesday’s loss to Coal Ridge. “The girls just don’t look like they want it out there.”

The Skiers hung with the visiting Titans during a seesaw Game 1 but unraveled down the stretch in Game 2. Coal Ridge seized all momentum from there and cruised to a 25-20, 25-18, 25-16 victory.

Aspen now has lost 22 straight matches since the start of the 2009 season. Next up is a trip to Carbondale on Thursday evening to face reigning 3A Western Slope champion Roaring Fork.

“We promised ourselves we were not the same team as last year. Whether we believe that or not, the jury is still out,” Dahlman said.

“[Coal Ridge] is a team we should be beating, or at least competing better against.”

Aspen pushed the Titans to five games in both of the squads’ meetings last fall. Early Tuesday, it looked as though another marathon match was in the works; the teams shared the lead seven different times and neither led by more than two during the first 35 points.

Coal Ridge (2-3 overall, 2-2 league) capitalized on an athletic dig and an Aspen miscue to erase a two-point deficit and square the opening game at 17. The Titans closed on an 11-3 run – seven of those points came on Skiers errors.

Inconsistent Aspen pulled to within one at 17-16 in Game 2 after Bailey Everhart produced a kill and Ali Kerr blocked two consecutive shots. The Skiers stumbled from there, however, as the Titans scored five consecutive points, prompting an Aspen timeout.

Jessica West and Brandee Smith converted kills down the stretch to seal a seven-point win and give Coal Ridge a commanding two-game lead.

“That is how we played last week. It’s good to see last week wasn’t a fluke,” said Titans head coach Scott Black, whose team caused problems for Gunnison on Saturday despite losing in three games. “We knew this would be close. … We had to make sure we didn’t come out flat.”

The Titans sure did not look flat in Game 3. they scored eight of the first 10 points and jumped out to a 17-6 advantage. Dahlman twice called timeouts to try and rally his troops, but the Skiers pulled no closer than six.

“Coal Ridge had a good defensive response and caught us off guard a couple times,” Dahlman said. “They did a great job of keeping the ball in play. … We just stopped attacking.

“The girls have to find that fight within. Right now, it’s not burning.”