Prep Volleyball: Burgin's Summer Burke feels less stress, playing better for Bulldogs
Burgin junior Summer Burke (7) is the setter on the Bulldogs' volleyball team, but has emerged as an all-around player for the Bulldogs. (Hal Morris / September 18, 2012)
The Bulldogs’ junior setter has learned to keep on a more even keel this season, not letting a bad play get her too down and just focusing on what happens next. It was not like that the previous two seasons, and Burke laughed about her bad habit, which she called her “ponytail flip.”
“I just know there’s another play and I just try to do better on the next one. That’s my mindset this year,” she said.
Burgin coach Maggie McKnight said Burke is more mature this season, has learned to temper her emotions, and in turn has become a better all-around player.
“We used to tease Summer that we could read the frustration in her body language, she’d wear her emotions on her sleeve,”¿McKnight said. “She used to fix her ponytail about six times a game, and we knew that’s when she was getting stressed out. And this year, we’re seeing less and less of that.
“She’s more confident in her play, and as she develops that maturity and mental strength she’s becoming an all-around player.”
Burke said she’s playing better this year in part because she’s more dedicated than she has been for the Bulldogs, who are 12-9 going into tonight’s home match with Garrard County.
“This is my third year and it became real important to me,” she said. “I’ve played a lot of other sports in the past. I played sports my whole life and I just really worked at it over the summer and wanted to get better. I came into the gym during open gyms every day and worked.”
McKnight said Burke’s improvement actually began last season, continued through the summer and now has really taken off this year.
“I would definitely say since the end of last season Summer has really evolved from just being a setter,”¿the Burgin coach said. “Now we use her in the offense across the front line as a hitter if we need to. She’s an excellent defender. She really hits spots with her serve. Not just that, they’re low serves, they’re powerful serves
“She’s really become a cornerstone for this team not only in this skill level she’s playing with, but as a leader. She’s captaining for us this year, she’s encouraging others on the team. She’s just become a pillar for us.”
As Burke has become more experienced and more mature, she has been able to handle more within the system. She credits McKnight for helping her get there.
“She has pushed me a long the way. We decided to run more difficult sets this year, and put in more difficult plays that are more difficult to set and difficult to hit,” she said. “I work a lot harder this year I feel like.
“Our team is just so close and we communicate so well on and off the court. When I set them, they know where I’m going and that makes me looks good also, so it’s not all me.”