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Rams go back to the future for regionals

G. Sean Kelly

The last time Roaring Fork High School had a volleyball team in the regional round of the postseason, Karen Crownhart was on the court trying to make plays. Now Crownhart, the head coach of the Rams, is pacing the sidelines, hoping her players will make those plays that ultimately lead to the state tournament.Roaring Fork is back at regionals after a 14-year hiatus and opens Saturday at 9 a.m. against Weld Central in the first game of the four-team pool-play tournament at Pagosa Springs.Despite it being the first trip to regionals for the Rams since 1990, the Rams aren’t entirely pleased to be going to Pagosa Springs. Roaring Fork won the 3A Western Slope League district tournament and was hoping to host the regional round, but the Colorado High School Activities Association awarded it to the Intermountain district champion instead.”It makes the girls a little more fired up that we have to travel six hours on a bus,” said Crownhart, who pointed out that it would have been an ideal weekend in Carbondale for the sports fan with both the regional volleyball and state tournament football games on Saturday.The No. 5-seed Rams enter on a roll, with 16 consecutive match victories, and they didn’t drop a game at the district tournament. The biggest challenge for Roaring Fork may be overcoming its inexperience at the regional-tournament level.”It’s a whole other world when you get into pressure situations,” Crownhart said. “The biggest hurdle is just being confident enough with what we have and not getting scared being at regionals.”Roaring Fork will also likely see a little more power volleyball than it did during the regular season. But, with Carly Velasquez setting up Erica Pelland and Sarah Armstrong, the Rams should match up favorably in that department.”I think the thing we haven’t seen in our league is a whole lot of big hitters,” Crownhart said. “That will be the biggest change this weekend.”Our offense can stand up to anybody,” she added. “It’s basically just (the Rams players’) confidence and knowing that they belong there.”Roaring Fork will likely face its toughest challenge of the day in the opening game against Weld Central. The Rebels have eight losses, but all but one came against teams still alive in the regional round of the playoffs.Gina Clemens is the top hitter for the Rebels (17-8), and Mahalia Marcotte and Jaymee Martin both have more than 30 aces this season.Roaring Fork faces Kent Denver (15-8) at approximately 1 p.m. and wraps up the tournament with Pagosa Springs (17-5) at 7 p.m.The two teams with the best pool-play records advance to next weekend’s state tournament in Denver. And Crownhart knows a solid showing this year may lead, not only to a chance for a state title, but more respect next season when home regional seeds come out.”We just have to make a name for ourselves,” Crownhart said.


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