Summit High School girls volleyball falls to Palisade in first home game of season
Against their toughest competition yet this season, the Summit High School varsity girls volleyball team lost 3 sets to 0 to visiting Palisade on Saturday, March 27.
The Tigers dropped to 0-3 with the loss in their first home game of the season. Tigers first-year head coach and team alumnus Lex Zagari said Summit carried over the improvements they made in practice Friday, but the Bulldogs’ pressure and unpredictable strategy had Summit out of a groove and rhythm early. The Tigers lost the first set 25-19, the second set 25-12 and the third set 25-14 as the team was swept in straight sets.
Zangari said the Tigers haven’t seen many teams play with active middles, something the team struggled with Saturday and will need to focus on in practice ahead of their home game 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30, versus Glenwood Springs. Tigers junior Emily Koetteritz said Summit was having trouble figuring out where to go on defense with Palisade’s middle-hitting strategy.
“They had a lot of height, they were blocking well, they have tough swingers, and they had good defense as well,” Zangari said. “With a team like that I’m trying to help the team understand you have to be digging everything and have to keep pounding. But it’s hard. The second you let up a little bit is when they take it and run.”
Zangari highlighted junior Taylor Tullio as a player who was incredibly aggressive, namely in a strong third period when she “was ready to swing.” The coach described Tullio as a positive player who’s always ready to improve and encourage everyone else.
“She just swung at everything,” Zangari said of Tullio. “I tell the girls a lot, ‘I’d rather you be aggressive and hit hard and swing out than be timid and give them a ball that they can hit at us really hard, because that’s what ends up happening if you don’t make them move.’”
The coach also said senior Mackenzie Westenskow has become a “quarterback” of sorts for Summit. The Tigers in their loss Thursday at Battle Mountain employed a 5-1 formation enabling Westenskow to set all the way around their half of the court. The approach gives the senior leader the opportunity to run the court and direct things, which she certainly did Saturday, running everywhere she could to keep volleys alive.
“I’m always proud of her,” Zangari said.
It was senior outside hitter C.J. Novotna who played an error-free game Saturday from Summit’s back row. Zangari said Summit is leaning on Novotna’s consistency, namely with her defense and passing.
Reflecting on Saturday’s game, Koetteritz said Summit performed well with their talking, serves and overall defense, except for tips. In the season’s remaining dozen games, Koetteritz said Summit needs to finish with the ball better with stronger swings.
“Finding open space in the (opponent’s) court,” Koetteritz said. “We had several balls that we would get up, but couldn’t finish. And we gave them free balls, in a way. It’s just about finishing.”
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