Sophomores Dodson, McComb lead Tigers volleyball to home-opening win against Rifle |

Sophomores Dodson, McComb lead Tigers volleyball to home-opening win against Rifle

Leo Wolfson
Special to the Daily

Summit vs. Rifle — Sept. 6

1S 2S 3S Final

Summit 25 25 25 3

Rifle 20 13 19 0

Home openers are always an exciting time in high school sports. Optimism is near its peak for the upcoming season, fans get to watch their team for the first time in many months on home turf, and players are exuberate with the opportunity to once again put on a show for their fellow students and community.

The Summit High School volleyball team took full advantage of it all on Tuesday night, sweeping Rifle (1-4 overall) in three straight sets (25-20, 25-13, 25-19) for a home-opening win that will not soon be forgotten.

“It’s definitely a great start,” head coach Liz Waddick said. “We’ve had a lot of girls who showed up this year ready to play.”

First set

Despite winning the first set, the Tigers play wasn’t pretty. The team committed many unforced errors and silly mistakes until a crucial AnnaMarie Dodson block allowed the Tigers to escape with a 25-20 win, but it was evident that they wouldn’t win the match if their sloppy play continued.

Second set

The Tigers woke up in the second set. After a neck-and-neck start, 5-5, Summit broke the game open. Sophomore star Dodson started barraging Rifle with spike after spike, each one placed perfectly between the Lady Bears line. With every thunderous punch a raucous cheer erupted from the emerald-clad Summit student section. She even added a pair of aces that helped propel the Tigers to a blowout win in the second set, 25-13.

“She’s quite dedicated to the sport and you can see that,” Waddick said. “She’s an all-around asset to our team.”

Senior Sam Buer also sent a number of commanding spikes past the Lady Bears, and sophomore Emma McComb was a consistent force, setting up solid bumps and passes throughout.

“She’s a really great, solid, solid rock of a player,” Waddick said of McComb with a smile. “You can’t really see a lot of things phase her.”

Third set

In the third set, Rifle showed some urgency in hopes of a late comeback by jumping out to a 9-5 lead. This prompted a timeout from coach Waddick, and after the timeout the Tigers looked like their old selves, clawing back to tie the set, 10-10.

The Lady Bears wouldn’t say die just yet, though, and some hard-fought volleys kept the game tied at 16-16. It was here, however, when the two teams finally split ways. Big hits from Dodson and Buer put the Tigers back in the driver’s seat as they outscored the Lady Bears, 9-3, for the remainder and a well-earned win at the home opener.

New, improved Tigers

One important takeaway from Tuesday’s win is that age isn’t everything. Even though Rifle has only juniors and seniors on their roster, they were clearly outclassed by the more balanced Tiger squad. Summit has just three seniors, but the team relies on strong underclassmen like Dodson and McComb to help right the ship when a set is in trouble, as well as a number of juniors with experience suiting up for varsity play.

“There’s definitely strength in having a good, varied group of kids,” Waddick said. “It’s going to keep us strong in years to come as well, but this group of girls is really working hard on taking chances and playing hard, and they’re proving it.”

With the win, Summit improves to 2-0 for the year after their season-opening wallop over Wheat Ridge on Aug. 25. It could be the rumblings of something special for the Tigers, who have yet to lose a single set this year. Two games is hardly a reliable sample size for judging the success of a whole season, but coach Waddick is cautiously optimistic.

“They’re taking really great chances and I’m proud of them for that,” Waddick explained. “They now have to balance their risk-taking with the, ‘How many in a row do we let go a foot out of bounds?’ They’re making good errors for sure, but that won’t work against a couple other teams.”

The Tigers will likely face one of those teams Thursday night when they square off against Glenwood Springs (5-1) at 6:30 p.m. at Summit High School.

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