The Fifth Annual Lady Longhorn Alumni Volleyball Tournament turned into a barnburner in which four teams, including a current PHS squad, battled for bragging rights as Payson’s best.
Played Aug. 4 in Wilson Dome, the teams first battled in round robin play and then in a single elimination tournament.
After more than two hours of continuous action, the 2012 varsity edged the 2009-plus-one team for the tournament title.
In the finale, 2009-plus one took the first set 25-23, but the varsity rebounded to win the second 25-19. In the rubber match, the varsity survived a thriller, 15-14.
“2009-plus-one was a scary team, featuring two current collegiate players — Jenna Robertson and Katelyn Curtis,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “Katelyn was actually the odd woman on this team; the other six players are from the class of 2009.”
Curtis graduated just last spring.
The varsity tipped off their pursuit of a tournament championship with a 25-14 win over the Super Team.
Next up in round robin play, 2009-plus-one fell to the varsity 25-12.
Stonebrink called the win surprising, saying he did not expect the varsity to coast against such a talented opponent.
In the third round, the varsity beat last year’s champs, the Kool Kidz, 25-15.
That win propelled the varsity into the championship finale against 2009-plus-one who earned a gold medal berth with a 25-15 win over the Kool Kidz.
In the battle for third place, Kool Kidz beat Super Team in two straight sets.
Stonebrink calls the third and final set of the gold medal match pitting the varsity vs. 2009-plus-one, a clash for ages saying, “Both teams played extremely well and neither backed down. We led early but a run by 09-plus-one gave them an 11-9 lead. They were still ahead 13-12 when we sided out.”
Next, Megan Wessel scored an ace only to see Robertson score on a kill that sent the set to championship point, 14-14.
“Robertson went back to serve and with her being a good server, I was thinking, ‘Just keep the ball in play,’” said Stonebrink. “But Kaitlyn Wessel was able to pass the tough serve perfectly and McKenzie Creighton set to middle hitter Sydney Samuels.”
The middle hitter responded with a smash that was dug on the opposite side of the net, setting up a joust.
Samuels, however, refused to give in responding with a strong, high hit that went down for the kill and the one-point victory.
Following the tournament, Stonebrink praised the alumni saying, “Much of our competition was as good as many of the A teams we play in the summer.
“A lot of these former Longhorns can still really play.”
Haylee Huff, Reanna Gutierrez, Jayden Walden, Desi Burris, Megan Burris and Hillary Hardt formed the Kool Kidz.
The 2009-plus-one included Cydney (Figueroa) Wilbanks, Kristin (Remonda) Curtis, Nikki DeWees, Rose Hardt, Laughlin Potvin, Robertson and Katelyn Curtis.
The Super team featured Kelsey Waugh, Cami Barnett, Rylee Halenar, Reghan Flake and Marlow Gallow. All were from the classes of 2010 and 2011.
The varsity returns to action Aug. 17 in the traditional season opening scrimmage in Show Low.