Summit High volleyball didn't quite squeak into the top rankings to proceed on to regional play.
When the Freeman rankings came out, the team found it was ranked 39th, bumped up from 45th and 43rd to just miss the regional bracket by three seeds. The progression was led by the team's seven-game winning streak that closed out its season.
Meanwhile, league contenders Palisade, Delta and Glenwood Springs head into the postseason ranked No. 25, No. 29 and No. 30, respectively.
Summit beat Delta twice while splitting with Glenwood and Palisade in the regular season. Battle Mountain also missed the playoffs, being ranked No. 41. Head coach Liz Hughes-Waddick is quick to point out that Summit lost twice to Battle Mountain, yet finished ahead of the team in state rankings.
"We're super bummed," Hughes-Waddick said. "I'm bummed especially because I feel they could have done really well in regionals with the team they were by the end of the season. It was a team that was going to do well."
She admits that the team that started the season wasn't the same one that ended it. The vastly improved team went from a 4-11 record to 11-11 on the season - an accomplishment by anyone's standards. Particularly when the team had a rough middle of the season with two seniors leaving the team.
"If only they'd have turned it on a little sooner," Hughes-Waddick said.
The team loses a handful of seniors going into next year, but the coach still sees a future in the program.
"I see a team that could get to regionals next year with some hard work," she said. "That's thanks, in part, to those seniors this year who really stepped up. It's a team full of girls who want to win and has that bug."
Brett Huntley leaves the setter position open. Anna Zangari leaves big shoes to fill as a valuable libero, voted as an all-league player. Sarah Metzger and Charlotte Truesdell are important to the serving game and defense.
Still, the team has freshman Lexi Zangari, an outside hitter in the front row and setter in the back row. Hughes-Waddick wants to see the varsity starter keep working on those positions. Madison Anderson, who stepped into varsity at the end of the season has turned out to be a valuable hitter. And newcomer Madison Webster as well as veterans Brittany Berry and Kates Raymond are critical parts of the team. A handful of other junior varsity leaders who saw time on the varsity court will fight for positions on next year's team, including the libero position Anna Zangari leaves vacant.
"There's plenty of talent on the JV and freshmen teams," Hughes-Waddick said. "It's going to be an interesting year for us next year, that's for sure."
During the 2012 season, the lower-level teams improved vastly from match to match, the coach said. Though the record wasn't much to brag about, she and other coaches focused on fundamentals to build a strong base for future teams. It seems to have paid off, as the players are improving their skills and readying themselves to slide into future varsity positions.
"The winning stretch at the end of the season was so exciting," Hughes-Waddick said. "I'm so very proud of those girls for reaching their potential as a team by the end of the season. They have a lot to be proud of, even though it was really disappointing to go from almost making it into regionals and then not.
"It's a bittersweet end because they did so well and ended on such a great note."