Lady Horn volleyballers should feel comfortable and at home in third place.
After finishing third in the East regular season standings, the Lady Horns were again bronze medalists at the regional tournament.
“That makes three times in the last four years we’ve finished third,” coach Arnold Stonebrink said. “It’s good enough to earn a spot in the state tournament, but just short of the regional championship game.”
With the third place and an 11th standings in power points, the team advances to the state tournament as a No. 11 seed pitted against No. 6 Fountain Hills.
First round at Bradshaw Mountain
The first-round game will be played at noon, Friday, Nov. 7 at Bradshaw Mountain High School.
The regional tournament was held Nov. 1 at Show Low High School and pitted all six of the East teams against one another in a single-elimination shoot-out.
Payson finished No. 3 after whipping Round Valley 3-1, but losing a semifinal clash against Blue Ridge by a 3-1 margin.
In the win over Round Valley, Payson won the first two games, 25-8 and 25-10, but lost the third, 25-13. In the fourth, Payson ran roughshod over the Lady Elks 25-13.
Stonebrink gave much of the credit for the win to the servers.
“The team netted a season-high 27 aces,” he said. “Desi Burris started the match with seven straight winners — five of them on aces.”
Also drawing praise was Jenna Robertson for her passing and spiking, tipping 11 kills in 22 attempts.
Reghan Flake led the team in serve-receiving and Kristin Remonda had 11 digs to pace the Lady Horns.
Rose Hardt recorded five kills and Bailey Randall scored four.
Against Blue Ridge
Stonebrink calls the match against Blue Ridge a “nail-biter, we were outscored for the whole match by just four points.”
Payson lost the first game 25-22, won the second 25-19, and then fell 25-21 and 25-22.
In the first showdown, Flake’s serving, which included two aces, jump-started the Lady Horns out to a 6-0 lead. Payson led late 18-13 but the Yellow Jackets roared from behind for the three-point win.
In the second, BR led 14-7 before a six-point serving run by Cydney Figueroa tied the score. Behind Robertson’s six kills, the Lady Horns tied up the match 1-1.
The third and fourth games turned into barnburners that either team could have won.
Stonebrink cited Michelle Daniels for her stellar play that included five kills, a solo stuff, three stuff assists and no errors.
Laughlin Potvin and Hardt had five kills each, Bailey Randall and Trinity England had four each.
Remonda led in digs, saving 21 balls.
In addition to Payson’s berth in the state tournament, the East will send region champion Snowflake, and runner-up Blue Ridge.
The Lobos have the No. 5 seed and will play No. 12 Window Rock. Blue Ridge advances as No. 8 and will play No. 9 Wickenburg.