A sweep of the always-potent St. Johns Redskins has stamped the Lady Longhorns as an East Region title contender.
Payson whipped the Skins Sept. 10 in Wilson Dome, 25-23, 25-21 and 25-22.
As evidenced by the close scores, the games were hotly contested although Payson led most of the way in all three sets.
“We would grab a modest lead, St. Johns would come back and then we would go on a run to almost go comfortably ahead, then St. Johns would come back again,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “St. Johns refused to let us put it away until the end.”
If there was a turning point in the clash it occurred in the second set with the Lady Horns clinging to a precarious 22-21 lead.
Stonebrink sent Kady Ward to the serving line and she responded with two crucial aces, which, Stonebrink said, “averted a possible changing of the whole match.”
The coach attributed the win to standout serving in which the Lady Longhorns scored 14 aces against the Redskins.
“Our serving is what really shined,” he said. “On a scale from 0-4 with 0 being the best score and an average under 2 being outstanding, we averaged 1.84 as a team.”
Among those who excelled at the line were Eveliina Solimen, Desi Burris, Rachel Creighton, Jordyn Fruth and Ward.
Burris had five aces and a 1.65 serving mark.
Solimen contributed three aces and served 1.59. Creighton, Fruth and Ward all scored two aces.
Also drawing praise was Cami Barnett, who, Stonebrink said, “had a monster game” in her 28 recorded spikes, she scored 11 kills with just one error.
She was equally as adept with her serve-receiving, averaging a mark of 2.83 per pass (on a 0-3 scale).
Reghan Flake also serve-received well with a mean of 2.32.
Katelyn Curtis, playing outside hitter, hammered the Redskins for five kills with a single error.
Following the match, Stonebrink lauded the team, “I was pleased with the wins on a few counts — the girls didn’t fold when the Redskins came back repeatedly and it’s good to win a close one against a formidable team.”
Freshmen, JV teams
Among the underclassmen, the freshmen lost their first match of the season by a 2-1 count.
The junior varsity erased a 12-7 deficit in the deciding third slate to remain unbeaten at 5-0.
Next up for Payson is a Sept. 22 clash against Round Valley in Wilson Dome.
Game times are 4:30 (frosh), 5:30 (JV) and 6:30 p.m. (varsity).