Payson volleyball coach Arnold Stonebrink was hoping his Longhorns could upset Snowflake on Tuesday night.
His team was competitive against the team that’s No. 2 in the Division III power rankings in a three-set loss at Snowflake four days earlier.
But the Longhorns weren’t able to pull it off in the rematch, losing 14-25, 17-25, 19-25.
“I thought we had a good chance to compete with the Lobos, especially after being competitive with them at their place, and even going to overtime with them one game,” the coach said. “But we had a slow, sloppy start, and spent virtually the whole evening playing catch up.
“Each set we played progressively better, but we needed a virtually perfect performance to have a chance to win, and unfortunately that just didn’t happen.”
Snowflake, which improved to 6-0 in the section with two games remaining, dominated the match. Payson’s only lead came in the third set.
“We battled well that game, but Snowflake was just too strong and too relentless,” Stonebrink said.
The hitting simply wasn’t as strong as it had been at Snowflake.
“We had a nice .165 hitting average against the Lobos at their place, but couldn’t sustain that (in the rematch), hitting .056,” Stonebrink said.
Setter Mckenzie Creighton had the best hitting average at .273. She led the team with 14 assists. Emmee Ashby led the team with eight kills. Cori Barnett had two block assists.
PHS’s top serve receiver was Klara Sorensen, followed by Kaylee Byers. Kelsee Stonebrink led the team in serving efficiency, followed by Selena Shill.
The Longhorns entered the game at No. 14 in the power rankings. Sixteen teams qualify for the state tournament. The top two in each of the five sections receive automatic berths and the power rankings determine the final six at-large berths. Since the top two teams in Section 2 (No. 20 Tucson Empire and No. 23 Tucson Catalina) aren’t among the top 16 in the power rankings, the Horns need to finish no lower than the No. 14 spot to earn a spot in the tournament.
PHS was scheduled to play at Cortez on Thursday, at Moon Valley on Tuesday and close the regular season at home against Chino Valley at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
“We have three games left and each one is a must win,” Stonebrink said.