Some Players Shine, Despite Uneven Net Play

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The Lady Longhorn varsity volleyball team won the consolation bracket championship as the team had its hands full last weekend battling with 17 other schools from around the state at the Payson Invitational.

Each school played 10 to 12 two-game matches with Payson dominating some and being dominated by others.

"We got off to a slow start on Friday," Coach Sue Weems said. The Lady Longhorns played four games Friday, capturing only one win that one against Wickenburg.

Despite not being at the top of the winner's list, Payson did have a number of players who demonstrated outstanding ability and performance.

"We have some real strong hitters and setters," Weems said. "Sam Ellsworth and Rachel Ray are both doing a great job of setting and Briauna Marshall and Reanna Martinez are very tough hitters."

When asked which team presented the toughest competition, Payson players pointed toward Miami.

As a team, the girls suffered from a lack of intensity at the beginning of their matches but seemed to warm up and demonstrate better team-work and communication later in each game. It appeared in at least one match the increase in focus was too little too late, but it was clear something was being learned that would be used in later games.

Martinez said the team was working to correct the slow starts.

"We just try to focus before the game and talk about how we want to pass, play and hit," she said.

That strategy paid off for the Lady Horns as they streamed their way through the consolation round defeating Wickenburg, Pusch Ridge and St. Johns. St. Johns presented quite a challenge for Payson, with each team capturing a win and forcing the match to go to a third and decisive game, which Payson would go on to win.

The girls dropped their only match loss in the double-elimination round to Show Low and with each team having one loss found themselves facing the Cougars once again for the consolation round championship match. Payson's increased focus paid off with the home-town girls clinching the win and the championship.

Payson also enjoyed one more accolade as Reanna Martinez was the only Payson player selected to the All-Tournament team. This was decided by each coach picking the two most outstanding players from their opposing teams and then having those numbers tallied at the end of the tournament. The top 12 point-getters were selected to the team and honored with special T-shirts printed for the occasion.

Payson will once again face Show Low players who gave them a good run for their money in the tournament this Thursday here in Payson at the High School dome. The freshmen team will play at 4:30 p.m., the JV at 5:30 p.m. and the varsity squad will take the court at 6:30 p.m.

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