By Phil Stacey
---- — PEABODY — She radiates positive energy. That’s the first thing you notice about Olivia Summit.
The second is that no matter where she is on the volleyball court — but particularly when she’s in the front row near the net — the Peabody High senior can seemingly get to any ball.
Being ambidextrous will certainly go a long ways towards doing that. But Summit also possesses on-court smarts, a sense of awareness of what’s going on around her and, most importantly on this night, the ability to play her best when the situation matters most. She starred late in Game 4 and throughout Game 5 as the unbeaten and top-seeded Tanners rallied for a 3-2 victory over Methuen in the Division 1 North playoff quarterfinals last night at Peabody High.
“I had so much adrenaline in me that it all came out. I was just so pumped to hit the ball or tip it,” said the 17-year-old Summit, who finished with 21 kills, including a half-dozen in Peabody’s Game 4 win and four more in the penultimate fifth set.
“Oh Liv, she was just amazing,” added Peabody captain Carolyn Scacchi, who also had a terrific night with 17 kills and five blocks. “She was all over the place hitting everything.”
After prevailing 25-17, 19-25, 19-25, 25-19, 15-11, Peabody (21-0) earned another home match in tomorrow’s North semifinals against No. 5 seed Haverhill (17-3).
Down 2 games to 1 and trailing early (7-1) in the fourth, the Tanners rallied to tie it, 18-18, and took the lead for good on a Scacchi kill. Summit scored three straight points to get it to 23-19, then finished off the set with a perfectly placed shot into the middle of the Methuen (14-8) defense to send matters to a fifth and deciding set.
“Olivia had one of her best nights tonight. I have never seen her play like that,” said Peabody head coach Lisa Keene. “She brought it definitely to a different level.
“She can go right, she can go left ... whatever you give her, she can do something with.”
Going to a fifth set for only the third time this fall, Peabody snapped an early 3-3 tie by taking four of the next five points. That run was highlighted by winning a long volley between the two clubs, with Emily Diezemann earning the decisive point.
“Sometimes some of the girls get hard on themselves,” said Summit, “so I always try to remain positive and stay smiling so my team can look back at me and see that.”
Summit added two key taps over the net for points down the homestretch, had a huge spike to get her team within one point of victory, and Scacchi finished off the Rangers with another perfect tip.
“The always play better the further we go along and really pick it up. They pick it up late ... not always quick enough for me ... but in the end we always seem to come out victorious,” said Keene.
There were other standouts for Peabody, too. Captain Jillian DiFelice was praised for her fine all-around play, as was sophomore setter Sara Hosman (23 assists), senior Ali Gottsegan (12 assists, 4 aces), junior Madison Mahoney and junior Courtney Bua, among others.
A big key in Peabody’s comeback was its ability to serve and receive much better over the final two sets. “We worked on that all week long and it showed,” said Keene.