If Arizona State University's John Jefferson's spectacular 1975 touchdown grab is now known simply as "The Catch," an official's out-of-bounds ruling in the East region volleyball tournament might best be remembered as "The Call."
Jefferson's catch earned the Arizona State football team a 24-21 win over Arizona and preserved the Devils' 12-0 season. The official's call helped earn the Lady Longhorns a second game 25-23 victory over Round Valley, a fourth place East Region tournament finish and a berth into the Class 3A state showdown.
The drama unfolded Oct. 29 in a first-round match played in Wilson dome.
After Round Valley posted a hard-earned 25-23 victory in the first game and built a commanding lead in the second, the Lady Horns' hopes for a match win and a fourth seed to state were on the ropes.
Gradually, however, Payson battled back into contention with a late rally.
"That's volleyball, it's a game of streaks," Payson High School athletic director Dave Bradley said.
After battling back to trail 23-20, Lady Horn coach Arnold Stonebrink signaled for a time out to rally his troops.
During the time out, PHS students and Lady Elk fans -- seated alongside each other on the north side of Wilson dome -- alternated rousing cheers.
The ear-splitting crowd noise added even more tension to the crucial final few minutes of play.
When the teams returned to the court, junior setter Brooke Cannon went to the service line to face one of the toughest situations a prep athlete can find herself in.
Cannon responded calmly to the pressure by serving four consecutive points.
During the streak, a tremendous block by Tori Wilbanks helped preserve the Lady Horns' service advantage.
With Payson leading 24-23, the two teams exchanged a heated volley before a Round Valley return appeared to fall in for a game-tying point.
With the supposed tie, Elk fans broke into a huge roar and the scoreboard lit up to 24-24.
Seconds later, however, an official ruled the RV return ball had hit an out of bounds standard atop the net. Which meant, Payson point and a 25-23 victory.
Following the call, the RV coach, players and fans looked on silently in stunned disbelief
The narrow Payson victory tied the match 1-1 and set the stage for a crucial rubber game.
Throughout the finale, Round Valley players performed stoically as if they were still rocked by the second game upset.
"They (Round Valley) never recovered from that," Lady Longhorn basketball coach Rory Huff said from the dome lobby where he was taking tickets.
With the Lady Elks stumbling, Payson cruised to an easy 25-11 win to nail down fourth place and the seed to state.
The Lady Horns returned to the dome courts later that afternoon, but fell 2-0 to eventual East tournament champion Snowflake.
In both tournament matches, the Lady Horns were without the services of junior outside hitter Jade Heglie, who suffered an ankle injury in an Oct. 25 match against Show Low.
Heglie watched from the sidelines on crutches, and it is uncertain whether she will return to the team for the upcoming state tournament.
On to state
With the region's fourth seed, Payson will open 3A state play at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 4 against South region champion Sahuarita.
In other first round games involving Payson teams, Snowflake plays Safford at 1 p.m., Blue Ridge takes on Florence at 11:30 a.m., and Show Low meets Chandler Seton Catholic, also at 11:30 a.m.
All state tournament games will be played in the Glendale Arena.