It took an old rival from the now-defunct Central Division to wisp away the Lady Longhorn volleyball team's aspirations of winning a state championship.
The Fountain Hills Falcons ended the Horns' short two-match stay in the state shoot-out with a 2-1 victory Thursday evening at Peoria Centennial High School.
Entering the match, the two teams were all too familiar with one another having developed a strong rivalry from 1996 to 1998 when both teams were members of the same division. The team also met once this year with the Lady Horns, emerging victorious in a nail-biter.
In the state match, Payson opened slowly losing the first game 15-3, but then rebounded to win 15-3. With the match dead-knotted and a berth in the semifinals on the line, the Lady Horns stumbled and fell 15-11.
The rubber match, coach Sue Weems said, "was a battle all the way. The girls played well on offense but struggled on defense."
After dropping the first game rather decisively, the Rim squad turned up the intensity a notch in the second.
"The girls got fired up and came out swinging," Weems said.
Senior Cassie Fulp served eight consecutive points before the Falcons could blink an eye.
Then it was "Katy, bar the door."
"We finished the game quickly, allowing Fountain Hills to score three points," Weems said.
The key to the turn-around in the second game was the play of middle hitters Sara Schmidt and Rheanna Martinez.
"They turned in some great hits," the coach said.
Weems also cited the contributions of Brianna Marshall who, she said, "had eight kills overall."