When challenged by a band of doggedly determined Lady Longhorns, Falcons don’t soar well no matter how lofty their status.
Proof of the birds’ fallibility surfaced Oct. 18 in Wilson Dome where the Payson High volleyball team swept, 3-0. The Fountain Hills Falcons entered the match with an impressive 11-5 record and sitting 13th in power points among 49 teams aligned in Division III.
The Lady Horn victory pushes Payson to 6-0 over Fountain Hills this season. On Sept. 14 at Fountain Hills, PHS won 3-0.
The Lady Horns now sport 9-7 credentials and are 18th in power points with 66.3506.
Shadow Ridge, ranked 17th, is only slightly ahead of the Lady Horns with 66.3506 points, and Tucson Amphitheater is 16th with 66.4622 points.
Ideally, Payson would like to surpass both Shadow Ridge and Amphi to reach a 16th-place ranking where there could be a better opportunity for the team to earn an at-large berth on power points into the Division III state tournament when it begins Nov. 4 at Tim’s Toyota Center in Prescott Valley.
The Lady Horns have two remaining games to increase their power point total — on Oct. 20 at Mingus and Oct. 24 at Notre Dame Prep in the Valley.
The Lady Horns most likely will not be one of the schools to receive automatic berths to state from Division III, Section I because they are not among the top teams in the standings.
Those berths will probably go to Monument Valley (13-1), Blue Ridge (12-1), Window Rock (12-1) or possibly Tuba City (11-3).
In prep volleyball, it’s relatively easy to keep track of the automatic state seeds, but advancing as one of Division III’s at-large qualifiers is a whole other ball game. Keeping track of power points is inexact science, certainly not calculated with finite precision.
Just ask Lady Horn veteran coach Arnold Stonebrink, “Tell me about it. Monday night or Tuesday morning, I checked (power points) and we were No. 17. Right now, after the big win (vs. Fountain Hills) we are No. 18.”
The fluctuations in the standings occur, in part, because some coaches are late turning in match results and others wait two, three or four matches to turn in results, which has the rankings changing positions more often than a politician with a bipolar disorder.
Which means, the teams that will receive at-large berths to state on power points probably won’t be etched in stone until the regular final season games are played next week.