After finishing the regular season with a 10-2 record and in second place of the Tri-Valley Small School league final standings, the Pine Buffalo volleyball team advanced to the season-ending tournament Oct. 26 and 27 in Sedona looking for a championship title.
But a gold medal was not in the team's future.
Like Beaver Creek did during the regular season, the elementary/junior high school located north of Camp Verde edged Pine for the championship by whipping the runner-up Buffaloes twice in the double-elimination tournament.
"All season long, we had a rivalry going with them," Pine's coach Kim Sleeper said.
Also competing in the tournament were teams representing West Sedona, Big Park, Clarkdale, Oak Creek and Mayer schools.
Pine wrapped up the tournament with a 4-2 record.
For Sleeper, the pair of silver-medal finishes were a welcome relief after coaching Pine last year through a winless (0-12) season.
"That got a little discouraging," she said.
The key to the Buffaloes' turnaround, Sleeper said, was "we had a great group of girls who knew how to play as a team."
Because Pine School has a no-cut rule and 27 girls in sixth, seventh and eighth grades turned out for the team this fall, Sleeper fielded A, B and C teams during the course of the regular season. For the tournament finale, 12 girls were selected from the three teams to represent the Buffaloes.
With the campaign at an end, Sleeper won't be coaching any more sports this school year, but said she will devote most of her time to her duties as the school's spirit squad leader.