Summit High School's girls' volleyball team took their game to four sets on Thursday night for the first time this season.
The team lost the first two sets against the Eagle Valley Devils, 25-20 and 25-23, won the third set , 25-17 and lost the final set, 25-16. The team is 1-8 for the season.
Anna Zangari was back in action after a bout with pneumonia, making up for her absence with a strong defensive presence. Senior Brett Huntley was also back after head coach Liz Hughes-Waddick benched her to allow recovery from a back injury.
The Tigers came out strong in the first set and stayed in the game until the score was 16-16 and the Devils ran away with the score. Errors plagued the players toward the end of the set, and the team's sense of control deteriorated, contributing to the Devils win.
It was a slower start to the second set, which saw freshman Lexy Zangari lead the attack halfway in. The Tigers forced their opponents to take a time out when they didn't clinch the win at 20-24 and allowed the Tigers to come back to 22-24. After a minute's recuperation, sophomore Brittany Berry tipped the ball to bring the score to 23-24, but the Devils saw an opportunity in the unprotected middle and dropped the ball in the center of the Tiger court for the win.
The Tigers clawed their way through the start of the third set, until senior Charlotte Truesdell went behind the line to serve. The team went on a run for the win under her leadership, which included an ace for Truesdell.
The fourth set saw the Devils come back onto the court with tenacity, and they quickly took control from the Tigers, to ultimately take the match.
Though Waddick-Hughes says her girls have more to work on, she was proud of their performance Thursday. She's eager to watch the match tape with them to analyze ways to improve.
"We're working on unforced errors," the coach said. "Their homework is to figure out what are the critical times when we can't make unforced errors."
Junior Madi Webster shone on offense with 11 kills and one error. Lexy Zangari had 10 kills, but needs consistency, as she had six errors. Still, she's working through adversity, as she moved from a junior varsity setter to sometimes playing as hitter and sometimes as outside, all while adapting to new setter Dakota Mendrick's style.
"We accomplished our goal of pushing the ball to the outside hitter to make the blocker move," Hughes-Waddick said, though she added that it became predictable after awhile. "They still need to sell the middle, though, and get the middle hitter engaged. They need to keep running the court."
On defense, Jones led the dig tally with 11, with 10 for Truesdell. The team totaled 52 digs, which doubled last week's 26 against the Battle Mountain Huskies.
"Things are looking way up after that match," Hughes-Waddick said. "They tasted what winning is like."
With defense looking stronger, the coach wants her team to continue to analyze its game, understanding where play action is going to occur, and prepare for it. Avoiding five-point runs is as important as focusing on eliminating unforced errors. A handful of players had more than one error, and Hughes-Waddick said if those can be eliminated, the team could shine.
"See what they're capable of?" she said at the end of the game.