Experienced spikers ready for a new test
FARMER’S KORNER – No matter what happens during the regular season, the Summit High School volleyball team will be playoff ready come November after spending two months in the Class 4A Jeffco League.
Tigers volleyball, like most SHS sports, moves from the Metro to the more competitive Jeffco league this year. For Summit, which is used to beating on teams like Skyview and Sheridan, the jump in competition should be immediately noticeable.
“It’s gonna be a big test for us,” said second-year coach Tim Andrulaitis. “It will bring out a lot in the players, and it will bring out a lot in me, too. Hopefully it’ll help us at districts and regionals.”
It’s the opposite scenario the Tigers have dealt with the past two years, when it had to be ready for a big jump in competition from the regular to the postseason.
“This is going to be such an experience for the seniors, because we’re actually going to have some competition,” said senior Ashley Reavis. “I’m really excited. I’d rather get beat and play an awesome game than totally dominate and have (the other team) play a bad game.”
Reavis and Aurora Ebert-Santos are the natural leaders of this team. They are proven hitters and solid defenders, and they’ve been around the longest.
“I’m looking for Ashley and Aurora to teach the new girls the system we played last year and get them comfortable in the system, and they’re doing a good job of that already,” Andrulaitis said. “That shows good leadership, and that’s a good thing.”
The big question mark for the Tigers will be who will get the ball to Reavis, Ebert-Santos and the other hitters. Last year’s setter, Bre Griffin, graduated, and Andrulaitis decided Ebert-Santos would be more valuable as a hitter than at the setter spot she held last year.
Jacy Folkers and Emily Baker have battled during the preseason for the setter spot. Folkers is a senior who was a varsity bench player last year, and Baker, a junior, set for JV last year.
“They’re really working hard,” Reavis said. “It’s going to be a hard spot to fill, but I think they can do it.”
Andrulaitis is hoping one of the two emerges as the unquestioned starter.
“Setting is the most important thing, and I really have to work on that this year,” Andrulaitis said. “I need one of them to step up and be a setter, be a quarterback and really take charge.”
The Tigers also lost starters at outside hitter (Lauren LeTourneau) and middle hitter (Stephanie Ruckriegle). They hope Julie Wallace, who played some last year as a varsity backup, will be a solid starter as a junior. Summit is also counting on junior Erica Nourse to make the transition from JV this year and play the middle.
Fellow junior Stephanie Von Norman is an experienced varsity player and has potential to dominate the middle.
“I’ve got some talent here,” Andrulaitis said. “I think I have a better team this year than last year.”
But making any predictions is a difficult thing with the team going into a new league. Last year Summit came within a couple points of going to state, losing some close matches in regionals. The year before the Tigers were in the final eight, and much of the current team remembers that trip to the Denver Coliseum.
“If we play to our potential, and if we do the best that we can, that’s going to be successful for us,” Reavis said. “It’s not going to be how many wins and losses because we don’t know this year. I’m just looking to get stronger as a team.”
That shouldn’t be a problem this year; there are few, if any, pushovers on Summit’s seven-week schedule.
Debbie McAllister replaces Sandy Kruger as junior varsity coach, and the team was still looking to hire a C Team coach as of last Friday.
Summit opens the season Friday at Faith Christian. Its first home game is Sept. 5 against Battle Mountain.
Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at email@example.com.
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