Volleyball: AHS takes momentum to districts
The Aspen Times
The Skiers are packing momentum for their trip to the Western Slope District Tournament this week.
The Aspen High School volleyball team, with a stirring comeback victory over Roaring Fork on Saturday, finished tied for third place in the conference with the postseason tournament scheduled to open Friday at Grand Junction Central High School.
The Skiers will compete in pool play on the opening day of the tournament, which will continue Saturday with cross-bracketed semifinals and finals.
Aspen, celebrating senior day in the historic AHS Skierdome, dropped the first game of Saturday’s league match against visiting Roaring Fork 25-23.
But the Skiers responded with stretches of their best play of the season, rallying to win three consecutive sets and the match 25-22, 25-19, 25-23.
The victory boosted Aspen’s record to 4-3 in conference, 6-9 overall.
Even though the win generated momentum, it kept the Skiers’ fans on the edge of their seats and Aspen head coach Matt Bergdahl pacing the sidelines.
“Our girls played well from behind,” Berdgahl said after the exhausting win. “I don’t want to play from behind. But our team actually does play well from behind. They stick together and fight.”
He said the Skiers, however, opened the door for the Rams with service errors and attacking errors and inconsistent play.
“Roaring Fork, my hats off to them, they played a great match,” Bergdahl said. “We always have a good match; I like playing them before (the district tournament).”
He said the match showed the Skiers’ ability to play well for stretches.
“The girls have developed their skills, their teamwork,” Bergdahl said. “The next step with this is … being consistent. We’re still hitting on six cylinders sometimes and eight cylinders other times.”
Roaring Fork stunned the Skiers in the opening set with kills across the net from Lyndsay Hansen, Grace Brown and Dani Minor.
A late run 5-0 from the Skiers forced a 23-23 tie before the Rams closed the set 25-23.
The Aspen girls led from start to finish in set 2, which was close throughout.
Nicole Bransom, Liza Vechiarello, Lacey Newhard, Kaya Storm, Kendall Anderson and Katy Miller all managed kills in the 25-22 second-set win, finished by Storm’s kill on a Roaring Fork overpass.
A strong service stretch from Julia Boronski and contributions from freshman Mary Williams and sophomore Maddy Bergdahl helped Aspen win the third set 25-19.
Miller’s jump serves closed the set, punctuated by Storm’s attacks in the middle.
Much to coach Bergdahl’s chagrin, the Skiers stumbled to start set 4, falling behind 14-8.
Spurred by the home fans, the Aspen girls rallied again and outscored the Rams 9-3 to tie the set at 17-all.
The teams traded points and sideouts with another Boronski ace boosting the Skiers to set point.
Williams’ cross-court kill completed Aspen’s 25-23 set win and 3-1 match victory.
Roaring Fork moved to 2-5 in conference, 4-13 overall, heading into the district tournament.
We’re not playing up to the consistency we need, but we’re still winning.” Bergdahl said of the Skiers, who have won three consecutive matches. “This sets us up well for the district tournament.”
With solid pool-play matches and consistency to go with the recent momentum, Bergdahl said, “Theres a chance, we can get to regionals. For this program, it’s been a long time coming. It’s a testament to these girls.”
The Skiers will face Roaring Fork again, Grand Valley and Moffat County in pool play at districts.
The other pool will include league champion Coal Ridge, Olathe, Gunnison and Basalt.
Bergdahl is in his third season reconstructing the Aspen High School volleyball program.
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Aspen again is led by senior Christian Kelly at No. 1 singles and Alex Mosher at No. 2 singles. The pair held down those same spots last season, when the Skiers finished sixth overall.