At the Summit High girls' volleyball invitational Saturday, the Tigers emerged champions of the two four-team pools.
Set to duke it out against Middle Park for the final game of the day, which began at 9 a.m. with a match against Vail Mountain School (a two-set win, 25-19, 25-21), Summit's girls started slow but picked up the pace in the end of the match for the win. Final games of the tournament were best of five sets while earlier games were won by best of three sets.
The Tigers lost the first two sets, 25-20 both times, and were down in the third set until something clicked for the tired team and they came back for a three-set win streak, 25-18, 25-23 and 15-12.
"The seniors really pulled through on being consistent and being leaders" throughout the tournament, head coach Liz Hughes-Waddick said, adding that particularly in the final match, the seniors' leadership shone.
"They've taught the girls how to come back when they're down," Hughes-Waddick said of the seniors. "It wasn't an easy win. They were tired. It was just awesome."
Hughes-Waddick went so far as to call the entire day - which lasted nearly 12 hours for the Summit girls - "awesome."
In the final game against Middle Park, newcomer to the team and freshman Madison Anderson stepped up her game in the third match to help the team land the win. Senior Brett Huntley performed in the setter position with 49 set assists while Anderson, Madi Webster and Kates Raymond stood out as kill leaders with 14, 18 and 13 kills respectively. Webster's kill-to-error ratio was low, with just four errors on her 18 kills. On defense, senior Anna Zangari tallied 15 digs while Raymond put in 16 and freshman Lexi Zangari totaled 18 digs on the match. That's out of the team's 72 digs and 66 kills against Middle Park.
Earlier in the day, Summit dominated Vail Mountain School before meeting league competition Eagle Valley, to whom the Lady Tigers lost twice before in four sets. This time, the match went to the full three sets, but Summit pulled out a win in the second and third set, winning 25-20 and 15-6 after losing the first, 25-19.
Summit went on to beat Wheat Ridge in two sets, 25-21 and 15-7 to finish first in its pool with six wins and one loss.
The Tigers ran the court with Huntley setting, causing Wheat Ridge to suffer forced errors in addition to the opponent's own unforced errors. The first set went point-for-point until Summit was given its winning point when Wheat Ridge was called for being in the net.
In the second set, Summit struggled at the start, but quickly left Wheat Ridge scrambling around the court. Eventually, the Tigers had rallied to 14-7, landing the final point for the win.
League teams Glenwood (second seed, five wins and three losses) and Battle Mountain (third seed, three wins, four losses) finished behind Middle Park in the opposing pool.
"We're seeing confidence we haven't seen before," Hughes-Waddick said of her team. She highlighted the team's wins in the third set, more than doubling the opponent's score to close out the games.
"These girls have figured out how to play that last game," the coach said. "We have girls digging and girls swinging. ... They're all doing things that earlier in the year, they were making mistakes on."
The Tiger offense tempo is up and the team is successfully fooling blockers, which is something it's been working on.
The team's efficiency is also improving. The Tigers had 41 hitting errors in earlier games against Eagle Valley, versus four attack errors in Saturday's game.
"Eagle Valley played the same game ... We just chose to run them hard and not make errors, which paid off," Hughes-Waddick said.
Summit volleyball is on a winning streak following a rough start to the season. Saturday's wins follow a victory over well-ranked Palisade on Oct. 18. With the tournament wins, the team has bumped up to 11-13 on the season.
Today, Summit takes on league team Glenwood Springs, to whom they lost on the road on Oct. 13 in four sets.
"We'll show them what we've got," Hughes-Waddick said.