Summit Tigers volleyball challenges Eagle Valley in nail-biting match on senior night

Junior Shannon Reed, front, attempts to block the ball with senior Autumn Rivera when the Tigers took on Eagle Valley for Summit's senior night on Thursday, Oct. 6. Summit fought hard throughout the match but lost 3-2.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

With six players on the Summit girls volleyball team, the Tigers came out poised and ready to face the Eagle Valley Devils on Thursday, Oct. 6, during senior recognition night. 

The league opponents faced each other in Eagle on Sept. 14, a day when Eagle Valley made quick work of Summit, sweeping the team 3-0. 

On Thursday night, Summit played much better. The Tigers forced the match to a full five sets but ultimately lost 3-2.

Summit started off on the right foot in the first set, scoring several early points. Before long, however, Eagle Valley made up the deficit and the two team’s exchanged points for the remainder of the set. 

With stellar plays from junior Bella Benson, senior Abi Urtusuastegui and junior Sierra Durloo, the team remained close to Eagle Valley but fell by 7 points in the first set, 25-18.

Summit attempted to rebound in the second set, but Eagle Valley strung together spectacular serves, defense and ball placement to pull to a considerable lead in the first half of the set. 

Despite being down early in the fresh set, Summit worked as a team to power its way back into the set. After a series of hard-fought points, Summit tied the game at 11.

The comeback effort by Summit continued with a strong run that put the Tigers up 17-11 and forced Eagle Valley to call a timeout. 

The Devils could not find an answer and lost the second set 25-22.

The Tigers attempted to keep the momentum on their side in the third set, but they were stopped by the strong play of Eagle Valley. After allowing the Devils to go on a 6-1 run, Tigers head coach Cynthia Durloo called a timeout to reassess the situation. 

Summit scored several points following the timeout, but it was not enough to match Eagle Valley, who took the third set, 25-9. 

Not wanting to lose the entire match, Summit started the fourth set with a new attitude and intensity. The Tigers got off to a quick lead, and by the midway point of the monumental fourth set, they led 12-7.

Despite Summit earning almost every back-and-forth rally to gain a point, Eagle Valley refused to lose the set without a fight. After trailing 17-12 in the latter part of the set, the Devils tied the game at 19.

The two teams battled over the final part of the set, but in the end Summit won 25-22 to force a fifth and final set.

“When we get behind, we focus on getting one good pass and focus on the team chemistry on the court so that we are able to gain points,” senior Joanna White said. “It’s better when we play together instead of individually.”  

“All of us have been playing together since middle school, sixth grade, so that chemistry has built up between all of us,” Urtusuastegui said of the team’s collective performance on Thursday. “We try to encourage each other on and off the court, keeping the energy up.” 

The Tigers were led by senior Autumn Rivera, senior Anna Gledhill and senior Kassidy Sheafe as they closed out the game. Summit once again led early in the set, but Eagle Valley answered the call — making a complete comeback to take the set, 17-15, and win the match, 3-2. 

Despite losing the game, Durloo and the Summit volleyball team were still proud of their performance against Eagle Valley. The team hung with the Devils for an entire five-set match with the team winning two out of those five sets — two more than the team managed back in September. 

“We have been working really hard in practice, and I think it showed tonight,” White said. “One of our biggest things was covering the block, and I think that made a big difference in the energy on the court.”

With the loss to Eagle Valley, Summit is now 2-9 on the season and 0-7 in league play. The Tigers will play Glenwood Springs on Wednesday, Oct. 12, before hosting their last home game of the season on Oct. 22 against Aspen.

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