The Lady Longhorns' varsity volleyball team gave up its winning streak to the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets in a five-game match Oct. 17.
"It was a tight, hard-fought match, with both teams grudgingly giving up points," coach Arnold Stonebrink said.
The first game saw the Longhorns fall behind by four points.
Against a great serve receiving team like Blue Ridge, that can be fatal, because you have to score points off your own serve to be able to tie it up.
The Lady Horns came from behind and appeared to have the first game won with game point at 24-23, when a Blue Ridge hitter spiked the ball out. But the referee made a controversial call that the ball had been touched by a Payson blocker.
The Horns played hard and had game point again at 25-24 before the Yellow Jackets pulled it out with three more points.
"Probably our biggest undoing that game was serving -- we had four service errors, compared to just two the rest of the evening," Stonebrink said.
The second game was nip and tuck again, with both teams fighting for each point. The Longhorns were able to break a late tie and finish with a 25-20 victory.
Fans applauded and drummed their feet in praise during the third game.
"Mollee Lee served six straight winners to jump start us to a 7-0 lead, and we cruised to a 25-16 win," Stonebrink said. "At this point, I thought the girls would be able to close it back."
But Blue Ridge battled back to take the fourth game, 21-25.
Somewhat inconsistent passing hurt Payson that game, and the Yellow Jackets picked up their game to pull out the win.
In the final game the Lady Horns commanded a 7-2 lead before the bottom suddenly fell out.
Fueled by strong Blue Ridge hitting and blocking, and our inability to consistently run the offense, the Yellow Jackets went on a scorching 13-2 run to finish the game at 15-9, and take the match.
Tori Wilbanks again had a stellar hitting game, leading the team with 27 kills and a .325 hitting efficiency. Jenna Robertson added seven kills and hit .263, and Brooke Cannon mixed tips and spikes to earn five kills and .455 hitting. Middle blocker Jenna Robertson led the team with blocks with nine (two stuffs), followed by Chris Deaton, who also had nine blocks (one stuff).
Lee led the team in serving with four aces, and Kyja Sommars also served very effectively. Jade Heglie led the team in serve receiving, averaging 2.68 out of a perfect three, followed by Lee and Wilbanks, who both scored 2.40.
The loss to the Yellow Jackets dropped the Longhorns to 8-2 in the region, tying them for first place with Blue Ridge.
"I'm not too concerned about the loss," Stonebrink said. "It was tough to lose the 7-2 lead the last game, but my hat goes off to Blue Ridge. They came in aggressive and hungry, and won the game, instead of us giving it to them."
In remaining regional action, the Lady Horns played fifth-ranked Round Valley Oct. 19 in Wilson Dome (results not available at press time).
Next up for the Lady Horns is a trip to Show Low Oct. 24 to take on the fifth-ranked Cougars.