Summit Volleyball takes on district tournament
SUMMIT COUNTY – Team chemistry: You can’t define it, but you know it when you see it. And anyone who has watched the Summit High School volleyball team this season has seen a lot of it.
True, many of the Tigers’ 18 wins have come from sheer, overwhelming talent. But the team also has manufactured victories by showing more energy, confidence and desire than its opponents. That’s chemistry.
“We’ve all grown up together and seen each other our whole lives,” said senior Ashley Reavis. “We knew that we’d meet at this point sooner or later.”
Summit is on the cusp of a playoff run that begins Saturday at Summit High and will end, it hopes, in Denver at the state tournament. If ever the team needed to be at its tightest, it will be during the next two weeks.
“We all have that same goal of going to state,” Reavis said, “and we all want it pretty bad.”
The girls say they get along on and off the court. But, over four years in the high school program, there have been bumps in the road. In many ways, how they’ve handled those obstacles has defined the bond they’ve formed.
“We’re not all best friends necessarily,” said senior Sarah Walton. “But our differences really make us click well on the court.”
The key for the Tigers has been to not let their differences fester. They’ve been able to air their issues without holding anything back because they know their respect for each other and the team runs deeper than their daily problems.
Much of the credit for fostering this atmosphere goes to second-year coach Tim Andrulaitis. Sure, Andrulaitis inherited not only tremendous talent, but also good attitudes. But he’s had the sense to not mess with the chemistry that was already there, and he’s improved it where he could by working through issues when they arose.
“Of course there’s gonna be tension between girls every once in a while, and there has been. That’s normal,” Andrulaitis said. “But I think sometimes, if we sit down and talk about it, then they get closer and closer after it gets taken care of.”
For example, the team entered the season with two setters – Jacy Folkers and Emily Baker – who both wanted to start. The difference between the two is not great.
About midseason, Andrulaitis settled on Baker, but Folkers still got playing time and played well when she did. The dispute caused tension throughout the team until a recent meeting when all the issues were aired. Now, Andrulaitis uses one or both of the setters, deciding on a game-to-game basis, and he says the team is closer for having gone through the controversy.
Andrulaitis stresses fun – fun on the court, and fun in practice. He’s been able to keep that as a goal while still demanding the type of effort that makes a team 18-1 and a league champion. It’s a fine line to walk, and the coach has done it well.
“When it comes down to it, he’s definitely our coach, but he’s more of a friend to every one of us,” Reavis said.
Athletic director Gretchen Nies, who hired Andrulaitis after two years of watching him as an assistant, has seen the team bond grow.
“I’m very pleased with what Tim has accomplished, and I’m very pleased with what the athletes on the team have accomplished,” she said. “They’re a very dedicated group that’s committed to developing their skills year-round.”
Summit will host eight teams at Saturday’s Class 4A, District 1 Tournament. Games begin at 8 a.m. with top-seeded Summit playing at 9:15 a.m., 11:45 a.m. and 2:15 p.m. The top two teams in each four-team pool will play for the championship beginning at 5 p.m. The title game is at 7 p.m. The top three teams advance to regionals.
Jason Starr can be reached at (970) 668-3998 Ext. 231 or at email@example.com.
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