Lady Tigers stun Battle Mountain volleyball in 4 sets for Senior Night win |

Lady Tigers stun Battle Mountain volleyball in 4 sets for Senior Night win

Phil Lindeman

Summit vs. Battle Mountain — Oct. 25

S1 S2 S3 S4 Wins

Summit 25 25 23 26 3

BMHS 23 20 25 24 1

FRISCO — Nobody scores off the net twice during match point. Nobody.

But Mia Popoff did.

In the fourth set of a wild and raucous Senior Night match, the Summit High volleyball team was down 21-24 against their heated rivals from across the pass, Battle Mountain (12-6 overall, 6-5 4A Western Slope), and needed a touch of good luck. The Lady Tigers didn’t exactly need a miracle — they faced a 15-point fifth set — but they desperately needed a win against the rivals. Summit had lost once already, a 3-1 beating in Edwards on Sept. 27, and no one on the team wanted to go winless against the Huskies, especially for Senior Night at home.

“I’m proud of my seniors,” Summit head coach Liz Waddick said. “They did a great job working together… They got the team back on track in the second (set) when I was worried the team wasn’t in the right space.”

Popoff’s run of improbable serves at crunch time started when the sophomore nipped a hard hit off the top of the net, where it built some backspin and bounced between two Huskies players before hitting the hardwood, 22-24. The next serve was a blooper that barely tipped the net and dropped untouched into the center of the opposing court, 23-24.

By then, the momentum and crowd were on Summit’s side. The girls just had to get it done. Battle Mountain had won a close set in the third, and Waddick knew a team with dangerous hitters like junior Avery Weaver, sophomore Lilian Benway and senior Timaree McKenny can easily win two straight for an upset. It’s pretty much what happened to Summit against Steamboat Springs on Oct. 20.

The entire student section was pulsating when 6-foot, 2-inch sophomore AnnaMarie Dodson spiked the ball with authority to tie the game, 24-24. Then things really got rowdy when senior Sam Buer gave her team the lead, 25-24 — not to mention a shot at the first match point against Battle Mountain since last October.

Popoff finished the five-point comeback she started, and she did it with a flawless serve. The Huskies volleyed the ball once, the Lady Tigers returned, and then the Huskies shanked a touch to give Summit the win in four sets (25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 26-24).

“Mia Popoff did an incredible job with her serves,” Waddick said after the game, joking that it was probably a good thing her mother wasn’t there for the comeback in the fourth. She’s been having heart issues lately, coach said, and even the healthy hearts in the room were thud-thudding by the time Popoff came in. Who knows if her team felt the intensity at the end — “They’re learning to control that adrenaline,” Waddick said — but it didn’t matter much when the student section flooded the court after the win was official. The girls shook hands with the Huskies and let the celebration begin.

Summit started the night ranked 31st in the state’s 4A ratings percentage index and is now 7-10 overall and 5-6 in the 4A Slope. They should gain serious points in the 4A standings, Waddick said. Battle Mountain, which started at 14th in the RPI, is now 12-7 overall and 6-6 in the league.

The Lady Tigers close out the season against 13th-ranked Palisade (11-7 overall, 8-3 league) in Palisade on Oct. 27.

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