The Payson High girls' volleyball teams have endured tough battles with Blue Ridge and Holbrook and now have their sights set on the state finals in Phoenix.
The freshman girls came out and battled hard against the Roadrunners from Holbrook Tuesday night in Payson. Both teams fought back and forth throughout the evenly matched competition with Payson capturing the first game 15-14.
The second game was much the same, with a number of long volleys that showcased the players' abilities. The serving of Whitney Heizer and good defensive play of Jilleen Jones greatly added to the toughness of the Payson team, just as they did in the match last week against Blue Ridge.
Holbrook also showed well-conditioned training and was able to outlast Payson 15-12 in the second game. They went on to win the third and final game of the match 15-7.
Payson junior varsity girls dominated Holbrook and clinched the match in two games 15-8 and 15-7. Good communication, tough play at the net, and a winning attitude that was evidenced throughout the team, are the factors which brought Payson the win.
The recent games with Blue Ridge were much the same, with huge blocks at the net by Brooke McRae and pinpoint sets by Karilyn Flake.
Terry Pete also reflects the team's more aggressive, attitude with a recently increasing number of hot plays.
These girls have been playing much more scrappy with some great work on defense.
Shea Hatch also demonstrated the team's ability to concentrate on the game serving eight straight points in their third and final game with Blue Ridge. Payson won the match 19-17, 16-14, 15-11.
The varsity girls took the court against Holbrook like a military blitzkrieg. The Roadrunners had the ball coming at them from all angles with the Longhorns showing unrelenting tenacity at the net. That same tenacity kept most Holbrook shots deflected back in their faces as Payson repeatedly shut down the net.
Payson went back and forth throughout the first game with Holbrook showing no sign of giving up. Payson went on to win the first game 15-11.
Then came the pressure.
Last week, Payson lost to Blue Ridge dropping games two and three by scores of 15-4 and 15-3. This week, however, Payson would be up for the challenge. After an even start that had the teams tied at 2, Payson flexed its muscle.
Rheanna Martinez stepped up and almost single-handedly shut down the net with three successive blocked spikes. The crowd went wild as Holbrook battled back to tie it up 8-8.
Then Payson flexed some more.
From that point on, it was all Payson. The players were focused, the coach was determined, and the crowd went wild. Payson rolled past Holbrook with a final score of 15-9.
The win puts Payson at 10-4 in conference play, and now the Horns are looking to be seeded third or fourth in the regional tournament in Show Low Friday.
Their placement depends on the outcome of other schools' games (not yet played by press time).
The top four teams in the region will go on to play at the state finals to be held in Phoenix Nov. 3-4.