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Skiers spikers beat Rams in five

ASPEN ” The revenge tour begins here. Definitely. Aspen head volleyball coach Sarah Benson could agree on that Tuesday night after her young team charged back from a deficit of two games to one to beat Roaring Fork in five, 23-25, 25-15, 22-25, 25-23 and 15-11.

Before Tuesday’s breakthrough win, Aspen’s season ” in a microcosm ” had been defined by the previous loss to the Rams.

The Skiers rolled off wins in the first two games of the first match against the Rams, only to suffer a huge collapse in the next three games and lose, 3-2.



The traumatic affects of that loss followed Aspen (3-5, 6-8) to Basalt Saturday where the Skiers again went up by two games, only to have their hearts broken again in five.

Something finally clicked on Tuesday, however, after Aspen found itself on the verge of choking in the fourth game.



Leading 20-18, Aspen froze as the Rams went on a 5-2 run to take a 23-22 lead. Benson called a desperation timeout to settle down her rattled team. When Aspen broke the huddle, a different team took the floor.

Same numbers. Same names. Different attitude.

As the old adage goes, the Skiers stopped playing not to lose and started playing to win.

“Coach just said to swing your heart out,” said junior outside hitter Hailey Ortmann. “She said that’s all you can do.”

Roaring Fork’s Ciarra Bristol served into the net, which tied the game at 23. Ortmann then followed her coach’s advice. She took a set on the right side of the net and slammed the ball into a block by Roaring Fork’s Erica Pelland. The deflected ball rolled on the top of the net, then dropped to the ground on the Roaring Fork side.

The Skiers went to Ortmann again at game point. A high set led to another big swing, but the ball sailed high. Ortmann’s blast would have gone long ” and out of bounds ” but Roaring Fork outside hitter Kali Chestnut second-guessed where it was going to fall and stuck her arm out for a dig. The ball ricocheted off Chestnut’s arm, then flew out of bounds.

Brimming with confidence, Aspen then dismantled the Rams in the 15-point tiebreaker. The Roaring Fork side was out of sorts and out of confidence as Aspen cruised to a 13-8 lead. The Rams pulled as close as 13-11 before Aspen played its two most complete points of the season.

To get to 14-11, Aspen first dug a tip from dominant Roaring Fork outside hitter Sarah Armstrong, then blocked Armstrong, then blocked Chestnut. The second block finally ended the rally as the deflected ball was never returned by the Rams.

To get to 15-11, Aspen junior middle hitter Megan Raczak didn’t hesitate on a 50-50 ball hovering above the net. Raczak dropped a well-placed tip out of reach of two Roaring Fork players.

When the ball hit the ground, the Skiers hit the ceiling.

Aspen junior outside hitter Brittany Zanin said, “We’re becoming more of a team. We’re picking up the pace. We’re finally playing like we played last year.”

Roaring Fork coach Karen Crownhart was surprised that the Skiers came back, but then she wasn’t.

After her team struggled in the two team’s first match, Crownhart still didn’t have an answer after the game as to why her team ” buoyed by dominant hitters Armstrong and Chestnut ” has struggled in two games against Aspen.

“It’s something about them,” Crownhart said. “We can’t get our offense going. This is not my team. Our offense is not good when we play [Aspen]. There’s something about Aspen that does that to us, and I don’t know what it is. It’s obviously them, not us.”


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