Basalt rolls on to state volleyball tournament
BASALT – A blank space on the wall in the Basalt High School “Big House” next to a banner proclaiming the Longhorns volleyball team the 1976 and ’78 District champions served as a little extra motivation three decades later.Hosting one of only four Class 3A volleyball regional tournaments last weekend, the 2006 version of the Lady ‘Horns served up a big exclamation point, going undefeated through nine straight games to win regionals and advance to this weekend’s 3A State Championships at the Denver Coliseum.Basalt (25-2) enters the eight-team state tournament for the first time since that run in the late 1970s as the No. 4 seed. The Longhorns open pool play at 8 a.m. Friday against the No. 5 seed, St. Mary’s (18-8). Also in their pool is top-seeded Colorado Springs Christian (24-2), and No. 8 Classical Academy (20-6).Rounding out the tournament are No. 2 seed Faith Christian (23-3), No. 3 Valley (24-2), No. 6 Strasburg (21-5) and No. 7 Platte Valley (16-11). Platte Valley advanced as the second team from Basalt’s regional, winning a tie-breaker round with Lamar and Middle Park after the three teams finished round-robin play with identical 1-2 records.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns left little doubt who the best team on the court was last Saturday, cruising through straight-game victories over Platte Valley (25-11, 25-20, 25-15), Middle Park (26-24, 27-25, 29-27) and Lamar (25-20, 26-25, 25-10).”Early in the season we started talking about the possibility of going all the way to state,” senior outside hitter Bailey Holmes said after the decisive third-game win over Lamar. “Now, to go undefeated in regionals and get a high seed in state, it’s pretty exciting.”If the Regional Championship banner is to be accompanied by a State Championship banner on the Big House wall, Holmes knows it will mean taking the level of play up a notch or two.”We can’t have any let-ups like we did today or at districts,” she said. “We just have to keep swinging. Our intensity and our communication made the difference today. We worked hard on that all week.”Added junior middle hitter Dayne Toney, “We have to make sure everything is clicking. We just have to play our game and don’t get down.”
With fatigue settling in after a long day of volleyball, the win over Lamar was perhaps the most impressive for the Longhorns.Basalt opened with a 25-20 game one win. But the Lady Savages stormed back in game two to take what looked at the time to be a commanding 20-12 lead. Sophomore Shelby Holmes served the Longhorns back into the game with five straight points to make it 20-17.Lamar extended the lead to 22-18, before Basalt scored another four straight points behind strong play at the net by Toney and Bailey Holmes and the accurate setting of Elisabeth Nemiec.The two teams exchanged points down the stretch, until a net violation and a missed hit by Lamar put the ball back in Shelby Holmes’ hands with score at 28-27 Basalt. Holmes served a winner to take the win.
The momentum continued into the third game, which the Longhorns completely dominated en route to the 25-10 decision.”That last game was phenomenal, and that was probably our worst game of the day,” Basalt coach Dave Drozd said. “Fatigue really started to set in for both teams. It really came down to who wanted it the most.”Drozd said the No. 4 seed is ideal for the Longhorns going into the state tournament.”I love being the underdog going to state,” he said. “We have a lot of heart … we’re definitely undersized, but we do play harder than any other team. When the pressure is on, we perform.”The top four teams from Friday and Saturday’s pool play advance to the championship round with the semifinal matches scheduled for mid-day Saturday. The championship match will be played at 7 p.m.
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