High School Sports

Bellingham volleyball senior ‘the rock’ of scrappy Red Raiders

Bellingham’s Summer Douglas bumps the ball in a game against Lynden Christian on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Bellingham.
Bellingham’s Summer Douglas bumps the ball in a game against Lynden Christian on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, in Bellingham. The Bellingham Herald

Bellingham volleyball senior Summer Douglas thinks before she speaks, she doesn’t mince words and she means what she says.

The senior hitter is completely content with being the vocal, blunt leader and her teammates respect her for it.

“She’s really intense,” senior middle hitter Cassie McFall said after a practice Monday, Sept. 28. “It’s nice because I’ll get a monster block and she’ll scream super loud and get the whole team pumped.”

Douglas will make note of the positives but is more than willing to point out flaws or things that are going wrong on the court.

When Douglas was named a captain, first-year coach Jessica King reminded the team about the three-year starter: “We all know Summer will be honest with you if you do something good and especially if you do something bad.”

Douglas was last year’s leading hitter for the Red Raiders, recording 175 kills as Bellingham advanced to within a game of the Class 2A State Tournament, but she seemed to take a backseat to the now graduated Anna Zeegers and Olivia Bjorklund — both named to the All-Whatcom County first team.

But now, it’s Douglas’ turn to take the spotlight.

Amid a coaching change, the left-hander may be the key to the Red Raiders continuing to build a program that hasn’t been to the state tournament since 1991.

“We can do completely new drills but Summer is still the same,” McFall said. “Summer is our rock.”

As one of few lefty players in the league, the right-side hitter is unique in her skill set.

“I remember being a freshman walking in thinking ‘Oh my gosh, that’s Summer, the lefty,’” co-captain and junior libero Sophia Lawrence said. “Never thinking that a left-hander could do that well. She just keeps getting better.”

She also gets better when the game or set is on the line, a position not all young players want to be in, coach King said.

“Summer is a really good clutch player,” King said. “She almost just comes alive completely in that situation.”

Her talents and ability to step up in high-pressure situations have given Douglas the ability to be respected as the vocal leader, which allows her to use her best asset — her vast volleyball knowledge.

King pointed out that Douglas would make a great coach someday, something the senior says she would love to do.

“She does a good job of bringing up players that might be struggling. She’s encouraging,” King said. “She’s not just about herself, which is great.”

Douglas, who plays year-round between club, beach and high school, is nearing the end of her Red Raiders’ career. She said she would like to play volleyball in college and is currently looking at a few schools, one of which is the University of British Columbia.

First, though, she’d like to see Bellingham finish the season strong. At 1-3 in the Northwest Conference, the Red Raiders are in a battle to make the postseason.

“We don’t have the same people here obviously but we’re a scrappy team,” Douglas said. “We can go far if we put in the time and effort.”

With Douglas pioneering the Red Raiders, don’t put anything past them.

Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or joshua.hart@bellinghamherald.com

Wiser than her years

Some of Summer Douglas’ advice when it comes to sports, volleyball and life:

“You can’t make anyone trust you. You have to show it through your actions. ... You see it build throughout the years, you can’t fabricate it but you can try your best to put yourself out there. You can’t ask for it.”

“In sport, you have to disassociate yourself from what people say about your game because that doesn’t affect who you are. The strongest players mentally are the ones that can say this is the game and this is me.”

“(Leadership), it’s something you show, something you create with what you do. It’s easier to get through to someone leading by example.”