The Rim Country Middle School Maverick girls' volleyball season is under way and already the hometown girls are receiving accolades, even from the coaches of opposing teams.
The Mavs' home-opener last week pitted the girls against a tough adversary from Winslow.
"They were really focused, but were very nervous because this is their first year in organized volleyball," seventh-grade coach Rachael Haught said.
Payson's seventh-graders captured the first game displaying superior teamwork. However the next two in the three-game match would go to Winslow.
"Anxiety played a big part in the loss," Haught said. "I think the pressure just got to them."
The Mavericks' eighth-grade team also suffered from first-game jitters.
"They looked a little nervous," coach Sue Weems said. "Our serving also killed us in that match."
The eighth-graders also dropped their match to Winslow, but the girls' tenacious efforts were far from over.
The girls next traveled to the Show Low Tournament last Saturday where they took part in a competition which featured teams from six schools.
"We started off slow coming out third in our pool," Weems said.
Payson lost its first match with Blue Ridge, but came back to beat Show Low to take first place in the consolation bracket.
"We had several coaches mention what great girls we have and how good they were doing at playing good volleyball and not just trying to hit every ball over the net or playing ping pong," Weems said.
Payson had several players who played a part in capturing the win.
"We had some great serving by Hailee Byler, and our setters have been working really hard and are doing a great job," Weems said. Setters Rikki Ray, Haylee Huss, Talese Pettet and Katie Plumb have been learning a lot and it's starting to show, she said. Weems said the win also was due to the impressive passing skills of Retosha Marshall and Shelby Bennett.
Both the seventh and eighth-grade girls hit the road this week against Maverick rival Snowflake. Payson has its next home game Nov. 16 at the middle school gym. The seventh graders hit the court at 3:30 p.m. and the eighth graders at 4:30 p.m.