Watch: Summit volleyball matches Central star’s aggression in senior-day loss
Tigers to play Monday, Tuesday to end season
A lingering knee injury wasn’t going to keep Summit High School volleyball senior Mackenzie Westenskow from not competing at her best on Saturday, April 17.
“She didn’t play like she was hurt,” Tigers head coach and playing alum Lex Zangari said.
On senior day at Summit High School, Westenskow led a collection of fellow seniors and younger up-and-coming players in a gritty effort to a 3-sets-to-1 loss to Central of Grand Junction.
Westenskow and fellow 2021 grads-to-be Mya Nicholds, Natalia Flores and Olivia Brewer put forth one of their best efforts of the season to attempt to come back from a 2-sets-to-0 deficit. Summit did win the third set and competed in the fourth set before the seniors were honored as part of a senior day ceremony.
After the ceremony, Nicholds reflected on what she’ll remember about this group that has persevered through a season ravaged by COVID-19 quarantines. Yes, the Tigers are 1-8 ahead of a couple of final games, but the negatives evaporated when Nicholds saw her sister Chloe and childhood best friend Sierra — up and comers in the Tigers program — hand her a bouquet of flowers and gifts.
“I just love all of them,” the senior libero said. “It’s been a journey together. We haven’t won a lot, but it’s been team building and cooperation.”
The tough task Summit was up against Saturday was the dominant play and presence of Central outside hitter Logan McCabe. Wearing No. 1 for the red and gray side, McCabe, possession to possession, played wherever Central needed her. The Warriors attack — and, often, Summit’s counter attack — was countered through McCabe, who with her powerful offense and immaculate defensive positioning single-handedly carried the rhythm of the game.
But as a competitive first set unfolded, Zangari and her players noticed McCabe’s tendencies to hit across the net. Summit attempted to take that away from McCabe as much as possible before an atypical volley and an unforced error broke a 23-23 tie into the Warriors’ winning favor to go up one set to zero.
Summit lost 25-20 in the second set, but Zangari remained happy with the Tigers’ aggression and confidence. The consistent, hard hitting led Summit to a 25-19 third-set win, one where Westenskow said Summit matched Central’s high energy with harder hits to seize momentum.
A huge part of Summit’s points derived from Westenskow’s shrew spikes, Nicholds’ aware defensive positioning and digs and serves from junior Emily Koetteritz. Zangari also highlighted freshman Hannah Crowe’s size at the net as a huge reason the Tigers played toe-to-toe for most of the game with Central. Crowe scored several powerful spikes with her length — combined with Westenskow and Brewer to block several Central shots, including a few from McCabe.
“She did a great job finding spots on the court where she could put the ball,” Zangari said.
Summit held a 14-10 lead in the fourth set before McCabe and Central rallied and put the set, and game, away 25-21. After the loss, Zangari described this year’s senior group — which on Saturday was without CJ Novotna, Olivia Westall and Kalee Padilla — as hard-working and fun.
Westenskow said though this season was challenging with a new team, she’ll remember the season fondly for giving her and her teammates the chance — even if it was less than hoped with multiple COVID-19 pauses — to spend time together during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Quarantine was hard, we didn’t have much time together, but I feel like we really created a sisterhood with our team,” Westenskow said.
Summit will finish the season Monday, April 19, at Glenwood Springs before a final home game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 20, versus Eagle Valley. The Tigers moved their senior night up to Saturday to ensure the ceremony happening in the case of a potential cancellation of Tuesday’s game due to COVID-19 quarantines.
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