A for-all-the-marbles volleyball finale that had fans, boosters and PHS students perched on the edge of their seats was played out after the Lady Longhorns won the first two sets of a season-opening match against Snowflake, but then lost the next two.
Although rocked by Snowflake’s rally from a 2-0 deficit, the Lady Horns roared back to win 15-11 on Emma Randall’s demoralizing set point kill.
In the rubber set, played Aug. 28 in Wilson Dome, Payson jumped out to an 8-5 cushion only to see Snowflake rally to take a 10-8 lead.
“The roof nearly caved in,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “So in my time out, I told our girls to pound the ball if it’s a good set.”
Taylor Randall took the advice to heart, scoring three points on two solid kills and what the coach calls an “in-your-face block assist” with Emma Randall.
Also, Megan Wessel jump-started a six-point run with five consecutive service winners that turned the two-point deficit into a 14-10 lead and set point, which PHS eventually scored.
Following the win, Stonebrink called it an epic battle, very much like last year’s clash between the two teams, “It was very nearly a mirror image.”
In that 2011 match, the score was tied 2-2 before Payson won the final set to claim the win.
Last Tuesday, Payson took the first two sets 25-18 and 25-23, but lost the second two 25-21 and 29-27 to force the deciding fifth set.
In winning, Stonebrink lauded several of his players including Mckenzie Creighton, Jade Holland, Emma Randall and others.
About Creighton, he said, “she led the team in aces with six and winners with 16 and also had only one error in 25 attempts, as she showed the mastery of her jump float serve.”
Holland, a reserve who backs up Sydney Samuels, was lauded for her seven kills in 16 attempts with two errors.
“Her value to the team cannot be overstated,” said Stonebrink. “She plays all three positions in the front row plus serves well and plays a good back row.”
The coach predicts Emma Randall, “is going to be a work horse for us and she was as strong at the finish as she was at the start of the match.”
She finished with a whopping 57 spikes, turning 24 of them into kills. She also committed just seven errors.
Taylor Randall also drew plaudits from the coach for her 10 kills, second on the team. Taylor, the coach said, “Showed flashes of utter dominance in hitting and blocking.”
As a team, the coach points to passing as a key to success. Libero Kaitlyn Wessel paced the passing attack, as did her sister Megan Wessel as well as Emma Randall and Kaylee Byers.
In underclass action, the freshmen lost two close decisions by four and two points. The junior varsity suffered a similar fate, falling by two in overtime and three in regulation.