Summit girls volleyball grateful to start season despite lack of practice |

Summit girls volleyball grateful to start season despite lack of practice

Tigers’ first year under new head coach and Summit alum Lexi Zangari

BRECKENRIDGE — After an extended offseason of change, the Summit High School varsity girls volleyball team is grateful to start its 14-game spring season Tuesday.

The Tigers are playing this spring after the Colorado High School Activities Association delayed the sport, which is typically played across the state in the fall, to the spring in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. That delay means the Tigers will have gone a year and a half between games when they travel to take on the Steamboat Springs Sailors at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

What will make the start of the season even more difficult for the Tigers is a lack of offseason training and in-season practice thus far due to COVID-19 regulations and quarantine protocols. The Tigers have only had a handful of workouts, combining both skill sessions on grass in the offseason and just 10 days of indoor tryouts and practices this winter. Summit on Saturday returned to practice after a COVID-19 quarantine shut down get-togethers earlier this month following just one post-tryout practice.

Despite the lack of time together around the net, Tigers junior Taylor Tulio said the versatile group of girls have good chemistry on and off the court.

“This year we do have a really high skill level on the team,” Tulio said. “Everyone on the team can play almost every position. I think that’s a good component to have on a team, because if anything freaky happens almost anyone can fill anyone’s spot.

“We’re all really determined after having some time off. I think (the extended layoff) was really hard, but it reminded us how we love to play volleyball and be with each other.”

Tulio and the rest of the Tiger girls will be led this season by Summit alum and first-year head coach Lexi Zangari. After graduating last May from a Division II volleyball career at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, Zangari has instilled values of togetherness, teamwork and toughness in the Tigers. Summit senior Olivia Brewer said it’s become clear to players after just a few practices that Zangari wants the Summit players “to grow as people and as volleyball players.”

Zangari, a 2016 Summit High graduate and volleyball star, said she was inspired to help the team’s situation amid COVID-19 after she herself had her world flipped on its head last spring. As a senior at Lees-McRae, Zangari in just two days had to pack up and leave campus suddenly last March, departing a place that she had become fond of.

“I know more than anyone how scary things can be, to pack up and drive home with no notice,” Zangari said. “So I want to give the girls something to hold onto and to teach them as much as I can.”

2020-21 Summit girls volleyball

Summit High School girls volleyball players scrimmage against one another during practice Saturday, March 20, at Summit High School. | Photo by Ashley Low / Ashley Low Photography

March 23: at Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m.

March 25: at Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.

March 27: vs. Palisade, 1 p.m.

March 30: vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.

April 1: at Eagle Valley, 6:30 p.m.

April 3: at JFK, 1 p.m.

April 6: vs. Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m.

April 8: at Manual, 6 p.m.

April 10: at Palisade, 1 p.m.

April 13: vs. Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.

April 15: at Rifle, 6:30 p.m.

April 17: vs. Central (Grand Junction), 1 p.m.

April 19: at Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.

April 20: vs. Eagle Valley, 6:30 p.m.

May 1: Regional Championship, TBD

After starting her volleyball career as a fifth-grader here in Summit, Zangari will bring 17 years of playing experience with her into her maiden coaching campaign. The girls she will coach include daughters of Zangari’s former teachers and members of the tight-knit Summit County volleyball community who Zangari played with at the Silverthorne Recreation Center.

“It’s a cool full-circle moment when you can give back to the people that helped me along,” the coach said.

Zangari first got to know the team in the summer when novel coronavirus regulations forced her to think creatively to get the girls playing again. That resulted in the grass volleyball sessions on a practice field behind the stadium at the high school. Though, the sessions were limited to just four players on each side of the net, fewer than a normal indoor volleyball game.

As summer transitioned to fall, the team wasn’t able to practice at all as the virus situation got worse in the county and the weather turned cold. It wasn’t until two months ago that Summit returned to indoor open-gym sessions. But in that time Zangari has become impressed with the skill and depth of the Tiger program, so much so she’s opting to have two junior varsity teams this season rather than a C team.

“What I’ve noticed most about them is they are just gritty,” Zangari said. “They are really willing to put the work in, and they care a lot about the sport. On the court they are always working to take coaching and criticism.”

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