Payson’s volleyball team on Tuesday rode the roller coaster through a fierce, five-set match that ended with a “gut-wrenching” come-from-behind triumph.
Payson pulled out a five-set victory over visiting Cottonwood Mingus, prevailing 25-9, 23-25, 25-13, 21-25, 15-12.
The fifth set looked like a heartbreaker when the Marauders built a 9-4 lead, but the Longhorns rallied in a decisive display of character.
“It was a crazy match,” said Payson coach Arnold Stonebrink. “We won sets one and three in blowouts, but lost sets two and four by two- and four-point margins.
“The fifth set was gut-wrenching. We were looking up from a 4-9 hole, but finished with an 11-3 run to take the match.”
Cori Barnett set up the first set blowout with a nine-point service run, giving PHS a 9-0 lead. The Horns never looked back. “We were firing on all cylinders and Mingus looked flat and discombobulated,” Stonebrink said.
“Mingus had a little more success serve-receiving and serving in the second set. But it was multiple errors, especially hitting errors, which really did PHS in,” said the coach.
“We fought from behind the whole set before finally tying it late,” he said. “It was tied as late as 23-23 before we gave up two straight points to lose the set.”
Kaylee Byers had a long serving run to turn a fairly close third set into a laugher. “Our passing and serving were tough and led to numerous kills by our hitters, who were back in the groove,” Stonebrink said.
Payson led 15-11 in the fourth set before tough serving propelled the Marauders to victory behind a 14-6 run.
Mingus used that momentum and a strong serving run to take a five-point lead in the deciding set.
“Things looked very dicey,” Stonebrink said.
But serving runs by Barnett, Jade Holland and Byers gave PHS a 14-11 lead. It was 14-12 after a Mingus side out but Taylor Randall finished it with a kill.
Right side sophomore hitter Sara Novack had her best game of the year, hitting a team-leading .364 (11 attempts, 4 kills, 0 errors). Setter Mckenzie Creighton had a “great” night tipping and pushing the ball, to the tune of .357 hitting (14 attempts, 5 kills, 0 errors).
Also hitting well were Barnett (.267; 15-7-3), Emmee Ashby (.240; 25-12-6), and Holland (.185; 27-9-4). Selena Shill’s 13 kills led the team.
Barnett had a “monster night” serving, nailing five aces in 23 attempts and 16 service winners. Holland added three aces and 17 winners in 24 attempts and Byers collected three aces and 16 points in 23 attempts.
Byers and Holland were both “solid” serve-receivers. Byers also led the team with 17 digs. Harley Turney added 10 digs and Creighton nine.
Creighton paced the team with 34 assists. Sara Novack added three.
Payson improved to 3-1, the same record as JV and the freshmen teams, who both won 2-0 Tuesday.
PHS ties for fifth at Coconino
Payson’s volleyball team tied for fifth in a strong 12-team Flagstaff Coconino Invitational field Sept. 14.
Among the schools participating were defending state champions Flagstaff (Division II), Tuba City (Div. III) and Sedona (Div. IV).
“At one time in the main gym all three teams were playing at the same time,” said Stonebrink. “And the fourth team, Prescott, was the No. 1 seed in bracket play. So it was pretty tough competition. The field was quite impressive.”
Flagstaff beat Prescott in the championship match. Tuba City placed third and Coconino fourth.
“I was quite pleased with the play of our girls in the tough tournament,” Stonebrink said. “Even against Flagstaff, with whom we split, and Tuba City, whom we lost 1-2 against, we played well, and gave each team a run for their money.”
PHS split with Flagstaff 18-21, 12-11 in the first match of pool play. The Longhorns then avenged a loss to Show Low the previous week, beating the Cougars 21-14, 16-11.
Prescott beat Payson 21-10, 21-17. “We played sloppily against a solid team that had no chinks in its armor,” Stonebrink said.
PHS rebounded to beat Chino Valley 21-8, 19-14 and Bradshaw Mountain 21-11, 18-12 to finish 7-3 in pool play, which left the Horns third in their pool behind Prescott and Flagstaff and as the No. 5 seed for the double-elimination tournament.
Payson whipped No. 12 Chino Valley 25-11, 25-12 and got by No. 4 Flagstaff Northland Prep 25-13, 17-25, 11-4 before falling to No. 1 Prescott 10-25, 20-25.
With a berth in the semifinals on the line, PHS beat Tuba City 25-18 in the first set and led 9-4 in the second set. But the Warriors rallied behind a strong server to go on a 20-1 run and win 25-13. TC eliminated the Longhorns 11-8 in the third set.
“We played solidly and with great spirit, with passing and hitting nearly flawless,” Stonebrink said of the first set. “We took it to the Warriors the first set and were ahead 9-4 (in the second set) when the roof caved in. A Tuba City player served lights out. She nailed a huge run that gave them a big lead. Tough floaters gave us fits, and even when we did handle her tough serves, tough Warrior blocking netted a couple stuffs for them, and turned us into a tipping team, which was no good. All of our tips went straight into the ready platform of the Warrior passers.
“Their 20-1 run really took the wind out of our sails. We recovered enough to make the third set a good game, but the Warriors prevailed.”
For the second week in a row, middle hitter Emmee Ashby garnered all-tournament honors. She hit a “tremendous” .381 (97-51-14). She also led the team in blocking with three solos and five assists. “Emmee was active, dominant and spirited,” Stonebrink said.
From the setting position, Creighton was “devastating with her well-timed and well-placed tips,” as she hit .300. Middle hitter Tessa Hintze hit a “powerful” .304. Outside hitter Holland hit a “superb” .223.
Creighton led the team in serve-receiving efficiency, followed closely by Kelsee Stonebrink, and then Sorensen.
Kelsee flip-flopped with Mckenzie in serving efficiency, and Kelsee also paced the team with 22 aces, followed by Mckenzie’s nine. Selena Shill added eight aces. Kelsee also led the team with 59 service winners, and 64 percent service winning percentage. Creighton led the team with 101 assists.
PHS pulled out a five-set win over Cottonwood Mingus on Tuesday night. See Tuesday’s Roundup for complete coverage.