Summit was in trouble. In a rivalry game against Bend High, with a league title on the line, the Storm found themselves in a deficit after the first set.
Instead of focusing on the task at hand, Summit coach Jill Waskom felt her team was focused more on the Lava Bears.
However, Summit shook that feeling rather quickly. The Storm were in total control the next three sets, winning them by an average of eight points Tuesday night at Summit High.
“We just needed to get in our rhythm,” Waskom said. “We know Bend is a good team, but we were just letting who was on the other side of the net determine how we were going to play.”
After dropping the first set 25-21, the Storm (11-2 MVC, 16-6 overall) rallied to win the next three 25-16, 25-17, 25-16 to move ahead of Bend (10-3, 15-7) in the Mountain Valley Conference standings.
Summit got 14 kills from sophomore outside hitter Taylor Brickey and collected 10 aces, with four coming from junior middle blocker Harper Justema.
“Our passing relaxed and we started getting in a rhythm in our offense,” Waskom said. “We changed our offense a little bit. We’ve worked on staying tougher and our mental toughness has gotten better for sure.”
While the passing gradually improved for the Storm, the Lava Bears’ passing was not as crisp as the match reached its later stages.
“Our serving wasn’t as tough and the passing wasn’t as consistent,” said Bend coach Kristen Cooper. “It kind of changed the game. Serving and passing are your basics, but as far as continuing the fight, I thought our girls did that, we just lacked in some of the fundamentals that we had in the first game.”
The Lava Bears did not help themselves in the second and third sets by falling behind and having to play catch-up. Summit built a 12-point lead in the second set and trailed by eight for much of the third set.
“We got stuck in a couple rotations,” Cooper said. “When a team makes a long run of points, you are working from behind. But when we did shift out of that rotation, we were winning those small battles. It was just a matter of getting stuck.”
The two programs are no strangers to facing off in high-stakes matches. Bend outlasted Summit in the state championship in 2017, and since 2013 the two teams have typically been neck and neck atop the conference standings.
“This was a must win for us,” Waskom said. “That’s how it always is and that’s what makes a fun high school match.”
Bend still has an outside chance to claim at least a share of the conference title. The Lava Bears travel to face MVC co-leader Sprague on Thursday in the final game of the regular season. A win there paired with Summit losing its regular-season finale at home Thursday against West Salem would create a three-way tie atop the standings, with each team splitting the two-game series against one another.
“I think we take the energy from tonight, because I think we did some good things,” Cooper said. “And we are going to keep building on that as we go into Sprague on Thursday and into the playoffs.”
All Summit has to do is beat West Salem (8-5, 11-10) Thursday to share the conference title. Should the Storm win, they will be tracking the outcome of Thursday’s outcome between Bend and Sprague, as a Lava Bears win over the Olympians would give the Storm the outright conference title.
“That would be nice,” Waskom laughed. “That would be really nice.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com