Payson’s volleyball teams dominated Camp Verde on Sept. 10, not losing a single set on the varsity, junior varsity or freshman teams.
The team responded to the coach Arnold Stonebrink’s pre-game challenge by sweeping Camp Verde 25-18, 25-14, 25-12.
Payson’s junior varsity and freshman teams also won without dropping a set.
“I challenged the team before the match that, by the time the match ended, they be an even better team and individually be better players. For the most part, I think they did that,” said Stonebrink.
“Middle hitter Cori Barnett is continuing her early-season success, which is a pleasant surprise, seeing that she is playing a relatively new position,” said the coach. “I thought she would be good, but she is just flat-out dominant so far.”
Barnett paced the Longhorn hitting attack with eight kills and an “overpowering” .538 hitting efficiency (13-8-1), according the Stonebrink.
“Our other middle, Emmee Ashby, also is continuing to pound the ball — her eight hits, five kills and zero errors was good enough for a team best .625.
Outside hitter Selena Shill hit a solid .278 (18-6-1).
“And from the setter’s spot, Mckenzie Creighton nailed three kills in five attempts for a terrific .600 efficiency. Mckenzie also led the team in assists with 25,” Stonebrink said.
“Mckenzie was also our most consistent serve-receiver,” Stonebrink added. “Shealea Garza led the team in digs with eight, followed by Harley Turney and Klara Sorensen with six apiece.
“Mckenzie also displayed her versatility by nailing 11 service winners, with 73 percent of her serves being winners, along with three aces. Selena Shill also popped three aces and led the team in serving efficiency and service-winner efficiency (78 percent).”
Additionally, winning in three sets allowed the coach to see several players.
“We were able to look at some of our younger players, who also played some in the Payson Invitational,” Stonebrink said. “And outside hitter Klara Sorensen and middle hitter Tessa Hintze played well.”
The coach said he was pleased with the way the Longhorns dominated the match.
“Camp Verde isn’t a volleyball powerhouse, but they’ve historically been good enough to keep us honest, especially at their place,” Stonebrink said.
“Last year, we faced double-set point the first set before pulling out the 3-0 win. This time wasn’t quite as dramatic, although the Cowboys wouldn’t let us blow them out the first set.
“The first set we jumped out to a nice lead, but a six-point Cowboy run brought them to within two, before we were able to pull away at the end.
“Camp Verde hung around the second set before a five-point run by us, fueled by Cori Barnett’s four service winners featuring two aces, put us firmly in the driver’s seat.
“The third set was never close — a seven-point run authored by Mckenzie Creighton’s six service winners (including two aces) extinguished any Cowboy hopes of an upset.”
The Longhorns were scheduled to participate in the Flagstaff Coconino Tournament on Sept. 13-14.
“We’ll have our work cut out for us, because we have two hitters unavailable,” Stonebrink said before that event.
Payson is scheduled to play host to Cottonwood Mingus tonight at 6:30 p.m. (freshmen at 4:30 and JV at 5:30. PHS takes on Fountain Hills at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“We have two huge matches (this) week,” Stonebrink said. “Mingus is a top 10 preseason pick by many pundits, and Fountain Hills is always tough, having barely missed state last year. We went 0-2 in match play against Mingus last year, and 1-1 against Fountain Hills. Hopefully we’ll have our two hitters back, and all hands on deck for these two critical matches.”