Summit volleyball seniors’ ‘never give in’ attitude brings growth to program over last four years |

Summit volleyball seniors’ ‘never give in’ attitude brings growth to program over last four years

The Summit Tigers girls volleyball team poses for a photo after falling to Eagle Valley 3-2 on Thursday, Oct. 6. Most of the seniors have been playing alongside one another since the sixth grade and have seen the program grow over the last four years. From left to right, Joanna White, Marley Yates, Abi Urtusuastegui, Autumn Rivera, Kassidy Sheafe and Anna Gledhill.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

The seniors on the 2022 Summit High School girls volleyball team have had quite the ride over the last four years. The team has had several coaches, played through a global pandemic and persevered through the ups and downs along the way.

Two seniors that have been front and center are Joanna White and Abi Urtusuastegui.

They may be making their debut on the varsity roster this season, but that does not mean they have not worked hard since they started playing alongside one another in the sixth grade. 

White and Urtusuastegui play in the libero and defensive specialist positions. According to first-year head coach Cynthia Durloo, these positions are often considered the unsung heroes on the volleyball court. 

White and Urtusuastegui often do not get an opportunity to cash in on fancy spikes over the net or incredible blocks. Instead they wait until the ball finds its way to them at the back of the court where they work together to keep the ball alive by recording digs and passing the ball back up to the setters at the forefront of the court. 

Through 11 games this season, White has recorded 68 digs, 157 serve receptions, five aces and four kills while Urtusuastegui has notched 99 digs, 132 serve receptions and two aces.

The two seniors have led the team to two wins so far this season and some competitive matches against challenging 4A Western Slope league teams. This past Thursday, the team barely lost to Eagle Valley 3-2 during five highly contested sets.

White, Urtusuastegui and many of the athletes on the 2022 Summit Tigers volleyball team have played on the same team for the last seven years. Every year, the team has improved in some regard and grown closer as an entire team.

With Durloo at the helm of the program this year, the team has looked closer than ever. The girls appear to be connected with one another on the court, and the team has a “never give in” attitude, which has led them to incredible comeback efforts. 

“We have gotten to know one another on a deeper level,” White said. “It helps us understand each other on the court and how we can build them up and make them ready for the next point and the next game.”

“All of us have been spending so much time together,” Urtusuastegui said, “every weekend, every day after school for two hours at least. Me and Jo have been able to build up this very strong chemistry on the court because at practices we have been next to each other every day.”  

Over their last four years on the Summit girls volleyball team, White and Urtusuastegui have seen 14 total wins for a four-year record of 14-54 with eight of those wins occurring when the duo were freshman.

Despite winning fewer games than the team has hoped for over the last four years, White and Urtusuastegui feel like they have grown alongside the program.

“We have adapted with one another because we are with one another all the time,” White said. “I think we have learned how to adapt to new coaches and work with different people on the court.”

Senior libero Joanna White moves into position during Summit’s homecoming match against Glenwood Springs on Thursday, Sept. 29, at Summit High School in Breckenridge. Summit fell to Glenwood Springs, 3-1 after winning the third set.
Alyssa Koch/Courtesy photo

Urtusuastegui says the COVID-19 pandemic was partially to blame for the team’s one win during the 2020 fall season, but the lessons learned during that time set the team up for the seasons to come. The team learned how to support one another during hard times and to fight until the end of the match no matter the score or final result. 

“We are still here fighting even if our record is not doing the best,” Urtusuastegui said. 

With the season quickly coming to a close, White and Urtusuastegui are both hoping for some more wins while also savoring the time they have left with their teammates.

“We want to fight for an emotional victory,” White said. “Fighting for what we think is the best even if that means we don’t win, it means that we played our best on the court and we left it all out there.”

White, Urtusuastegui and the rest of the team will play a final home game on Oct. 22 against Aspen High School. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

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