A pair of East victories and a narrow loss to an old rival from Payson High’s two years in the 4A Grand Canyon Region set the stage for a Lady Longhorn crucial showdown today, Sept. 22, against Round Valley and for two other upcoming regional clashes.
Game time vs. Round Valley is 6:30 p.m. in Wilson Dome.
“We’ve got to have the (Round Valley) match — we need to be undefeated when we travel to Blue Ridge (Sept. 29) and Snowflake (Oct. 1),” coach Arnold Stonebrink said.
Last week’s two wins, over Show Low and Alchesay, kept the Horns unbeaten in East play with a 4-0 record.
The loss to Flagstaff dropped Payson’s overall mark to 5-3.
After whipping Show Low 2-1 on Sept. 15, the Lady Horns fell 3-0 the following day to Flagstaff — a match that was not originally on the schedule.
“Flagstaff was looking for one more match to round out their 17-match schedule, and asked us,” Stonebrink said. “We were more than willing to accommodate them.
“Win or lose I knew playing a good team like Flagstaff would be beneficial for us and make us that much better.”
Stonebrink has known Flagstaff coach Beth Heglin since 2004-2005 when PHS was aligned in the same conference and region with the Eagles.
“She is a lot of fun to play against,” Stonebrink said.
After falling 25-23, 26-24 and 25-22 to the Eagles, the Lady Horns traveled the next day to Whiteriver where they turned in possibly their best match ever against the Falcons, winning 25-11, 25-13 and 25-12.
“We (received) contributions from everybody,” Stonebrink said.
The coach cited Marlow Galloway for her eight kills on 15 spikes, Rachel D’Addabo for four kills and Katelyn Curtis and Rachel DiFelice for their combined 15 digs.
Also, Michelle Daniels drew praise for dominating at the net, as she usually does, with two stuffs and three stuff assists.
Desi Burris had seven assists and four aces while Rachel Creighton recorded five assists and two aces.
Stonebrink emerged from the Flagstaff loss satisfied with the team effort, except for the fact the Lady Horns couldn’t finish out their sets.
“In each of the first two sets, we held 18-13 lead, but couldn’t close the deal,” he said. “The girls played hard and gave up very little by way of mistakes.”
The key to the Eagle win is that Flagstaff effectively neutralized the Lady Horn hitting attack with solid blocking and digging.
“That limited us to .079 hitting,” Stonebrink said.
A pair of Lady Horns, Curtis and Daniels, did shine at the net with several kills against what Stonebrink calls “the vaunted Eagles’ defense.”
Curtis hit at a .286 mark and Daniels recorded a .250 average.
Curtis also stuffed one Flagstaff hit and assisted on two others.
Reghan Flake dug 20 Eagle hits and drew praise for her standout passing.
Creighton had three aces.
Among the underclassmen, the freshmen and junior teams both bested Flagstaff. The freshmen now sport 5-1 credentials.
The jayvees whipped Alchesay easily to stay unbeaten at 8-0.
Burris shuts out Dogs
The highlight of the Coconino tournament, contested Sept. 12 in Flagstaff, was Payson’s 15-0 win over Winslow.
“That’s right, we pitched a shutout,” Stonebrink said.
Most all the credit for the scoreless effort must go to Desi Burris, who served out the set with 15 serves, 15 service winners and five aces.
“I think it’s similar to pitching a no-hitter in baseball,” Stonebrink said. “I’ve never been involved in a shutout in volleyball like that, as a coach, or as a player.”
Following the tournament, the coach praised Daniels for her hitting and Trinity England for her 25 kills. Burris led the team in aces with nine followed by Jordyn Fruth’s six.
Flake emerged as the team’s No. 1 passer and led the Lady Horns in digs with 39.