Summit volleyball ready for a more normal season 3 months after altered spring season
Tigers open 20-plus-game season — double last year — Friday at West Grand
The Summit High School varsity volleyball team is excited for a second year under head coach Lex Zangari that should be a huge step back toward normalcy compared with an irregular spring season just three months ago.
Heading into her second season with the team, Zangari, a Summit volleyball alum, has been able to build the team’s skills and help an experienced group gel further thanks to extended practice time this August.
Last spring, Zangari said the Tigers had just one practice between most games due to a compressed early spring season after the traditional fall season was postponed by the Colorado High School Activities Association in response to COVID-19. The Tigers struggled through a 1-10 season after numerous players were forced to quarantine due to virus testing and contact tracing during tryouts and throughout the season. This fall, Summit is scheduled to play more than twice that number of games.
Tigers senior outside hitter Taylor Tullio said although players have had to play in masks at the start of this fall campaign, the vibe is much different than last year thanks to the amount of time players can spend together in school on and off the volleyball court.
On Wednesday, students returned to in-person school.
“Bonding with each other outside of sport is vital for being a good team,” Tullio said. “Seeing your teammates in school, in the hallway, it helps creating relationships with teammates.”
Zangari said the compact nature of the spring season coming on the heels of spring tryouts made it hard to develop athletes’ skills during her first season as coach. The coach said it resulted in players naturally reverting to poor habits that they were comfortable with during pressure situations.
To get this season started off better, Zangari had the team attend a camp hosted by Rick Swan, the recently retired coach of Colorado College who went 579-175 in his career while making 22 consecutive appearances in the NCAA Division III Volleyball Championship. Zangari said the camp gave her good insight on what skills the team needed to work on, such as hitting, passing mechanics and core communication.
When the Tigers open the season Friday, Aug. 20, at West Grand, the coach is confident she has an excited group committed to the program and eager to improve on last year’s winless record in the Western Slope League. Zangari said Tullio is one of the leaders, as she’ll bring enough versatility, dependability and consistency that Zangari is confident to play her almost anywhere on the court.
Aug. 20 at West Grand, 5:30 p.m.
Aug. 24 at Manitou Springs, 6 p.m.
Aug. 31 at Basalt, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 at Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 9 vs. Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 14 at Palisade, 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 vs. Eagle Valley (homecoming), 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 28 at Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.
Oct 1 vs. Steamboat Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 5 at Eagle Valley, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 7 at Glenwood Springs, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 9 vs. Palisade, 3:30 p.m.
Oct. 12 vs. Rifle, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 15-16 at Battle Mountain Tournament, TBA
Oct. 21 vs. John F. Kennedy, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 26 at Battle Mountain, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 30 at Golden Tournament, TBA
Nov. 5-6 at Regional championship (must qualify), TBA
Zangari said Bella Speer will be another senior leader who will bring a firecracker spirit on and off the court. Zangari said Speer will likely reside on the right side of the team’s formation as she is one of the team’s best hitters, especially with her “heavy” right hand.
As for replacing departed setter Mackenzie Westenskow, Zangari said seniors Kayla Hanson and Kenna Korex will step into that crucial position.
The Tigers also have talented juniors in the versatile, athletic junior Autumn Rivera and ever-reliable senior libero Emily Koetteritz. As for the sophomore class, Tullio said Hannah Crowe will make a huge impact with her 6-foot frame at the net while Zangari said Ella Snyder is another super athletic player who has the ability to play high in the air.
“There’s not a single girl on the team that I feel is not completely bought in,” Zangari said. “They all are there ready to get better. They are all good, coachable kids.”
The Tigers will have some newcomers this year, including talented senior Brooke Steger, who said she missed the spring season after she was quarantined during spring tryouts. But Steger will bring 12 years of playing experience to the Tigers, including time spent playing with many Summit athletes on the Vail Volleyball Club.
“I think she is another one of the girls that I can kind of put wherever, whether in the back row or at outside hitter,” Zangari said. “It depends on what we need for the team.”
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