Summit High volleyball preview
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Summit County, Colorado
FARMER’S KORNER – It’s just a totally different feeling walking into the gym this fall for head coach Liz Hughes. Maybe it’s the optimism of a new season, or the youthful exuberance of her team that will feature only two returning seniors.
Or maybe it’s a little more simple.
“These girls just work their butts off every day in here,” Hughes said. “They’re eager to learn, and I love coming in here every day.”
It may seem uncomplicated, but for a program that struggled the past two seasons, Hughes feels Summit High volleyball is finally starting to turn the corner in her third season at the helm.
The Tigers return only three varsity players – seniors Katie Johnson and Malory Donahue and junior Kim Snyder – but it’s what the new blood brings in that has changed the chemistry – and outlook – for Summit this season.
“We’ve got a bunch of girls that are going to do anything to win,” Hughes said. “They’re not going to lay down and let you beat them. It’s refreshing to have the girls pushing each other to do that.”
And the Tigers start that push tonight, when they travel to take on Buena Vista for a non-league match. Summit hasn’t played Buena Vista in the two years Hughes has been the coach, but she expects a challenge – and, hopefully, a win.
“It would be great if we could come out and win,” the coach said. “Both the last two years were really tough, and we just couldn’t get it going early in the year.”
The Jeffco League won’t be any easier this season for the Tigers to work their way through. Last season, Summit finished 4-15, which was an improvement from 2008. Although, many matches were lost with late rallies that didn’t go the Tigers’ way. Hughes felt a lack of confidence lead to so many of Summit’s troubles in the past, and she hopes that trend has finally ended.
“They’re a “never-say-die” type of group,” she said. “They aren’t that tall, but what they lack in height, they more than make up for in hustle and desire.”
And the Tigers are already making strides in the areas Hughes felt they needed to.
With four coaches on the staff this season, Hughes said practices have been more efficient for Summit’s three squads – varsity, junior varsity and “C.” The Tigers have had a big focus on communication on the floor, as well as blocking at the net.
Hughes said with a young team, the Tigers have had more emphasis on skill development in order to allow players to work at multiple positions on the floor.
Although, the coach feels that none of that will make a difference unless the team can gel together. At this early stage, it looks like that is happening.
“We’re all close friends at school and we all love volleyball,” Johnson said of her team. “We just love the sport, and that makes us push even harder.”
And, again, it’s that drive that not only gets Hughes excited to come to practice but for her players to do the same.
“It’s the most active our gym has been in the three years I’ve been here,” Hughes said. “It’s going to be a really exciting year.”
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