There were no big surprises in the Lady Longhorn volleyball team’s two-match stand against Flagstaff and Camp Verde.
As expected, Payson lost 3-0 to powerful Flagstaff and easily handled Camp Verde, 3-0.
“We knew Flagstaff would be very tough to beat,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “They have lost only once as a Division II school and that was to powerhouse Prescott, 3-2.”
Camp Verde, however, struggled with its setting and its passing was sometimes shaky in the loss to Payson.
Stonebrink’s scouting report on CV included, “If you can weather their tough servers and good hitters, you should be fine.”
The victory “Gave us a big jump to No. 13 in power points but I think after all scores are reported, we’ll be No.14,” the coach said.
The win also set up a huge showdown last evening Oct. 6 vs. Scottsdale Saguaro. (Results not available at press time).
“A win over Saguaro would give a huge boost to our state chances,” Stonebrink said.
After losing to the Scottsdale team 3-0 on Sept. 15 at SHS, Stonebrink called the Sabercats “arguable the best serving team I’ve ever seen. Their hard, low-arc floaters killed us and they demoralized us with 20 aces.”
Although the Lady Horns were blanked in Scottsdale, Stonebrink was confident late this week his team would play well in yesterday’s rematch. But, only if the team corrects some miscues it made in the earlier meeting vs. the Sabercats.
“We hurt ourselves with errors, even the one set we pushed them to overtime,” Stonebrink said. “And if it were not for their aces we actually outscored them.
“I will point that out to the girls in practice.”
In the win over the Cowboys, Oct. 4 in Camp Verde, Payson jumped out to an early six-point lead, but trailed 23-22 late in the first set.
“We called time out and then a nice pass set up a kill to tie it up,” said Stonebrink.
Megan Wessel stepped up to rally the Lady Horns to victory with two service winners, including an ace.
Rachel Creighton’s five straight service winners and three kills each from Kaitlyn Wessel and Emma Randall put the Lady Horns on cruise control in a second set 25-13 win.
In the third and final set, Payson rode 13 kills, five each from Emma Randall and Taylor Randall, to a 25-18 win.
“We had success hitting against Camp Verde,” said Stonebrink. “The Randalls led in hitting, followed by Katelyn Curtis, Kaitlyn Wessel and Emmee Ashby.”
Rachel Creighton contributed 23 aces and right side hitter Kaitlyn Wessel had three.
Against Flagstaff, Payson dropped the first set 25-19, primarily because the team couldn’t penetrate an Eagle defense the coach simply calls “stout.”
Although PHS was competitive in the opener, the Lady Horns were soundly thumped 25-11 in the second.
“It was a disaster — we didn’t stand a chance,” said Stonebrink.
The players, however, rebounded from the less than stellar showing to take the Eagles into overtime in the third set before falling 26-24.
The Lady Horns led late in the set, 23-21, but a Flagstaff run put the Eagles at match point 24-23. A Rachel Creighton kill forced the set into OT.
Today, the really good news on the Lady Horn scene is that the team is finally healthy after suffering a series of disheartening injuries.
Kaylee Byers has returned to the team after being out about three weeks with a sprained ankle and middle hitter Kayla Woolwine is back in the lineup. She was injured Sept. 2 in the Payson Invitational.
Also, outside hitter Shayna Neal has returned from a back injury she suffered in preseason.