A pair of Payson clubs represented Rim Country well in a Go Girl Volleyball tournament in Show Low on Saturday, Feb. 15.
Club Payson’s 14-and-under team won the middle school tournament by beating Payson’s middle school Go Girl team in the championship match. Club Payson’s 16’s won the JV division crown, going unbeaten with wins over Show Low and Blue Ridge and taking down Round Valley in the final.
Club Payson’s 18’s played in the varsity division. That team hadn’t dropped a set this club season entering the tournament. “But we had an off morning, losing to three different teams in pool play,” said coach Trevor Creighton.
But they rallied to beat both Show Low and Blue Ridge in bracket play before an alumni team featuring former college players knocked them out.
“I was satisfied with the day, knowing that we finished at the top of the high school teams,” Creighton said. “I didn’t mind the losses, because it gave us some insight into areas we need to improve on for our next club tournament.”
It’s the only Go Girl tournament Club Payson’s teams will participate in because of a busy club schedule. “Renee Rogers, the varsity coach from Show Low, does a great job with these tournaments,” Creighton said. “We were happy we were able to go.”
Payson High’s Go Girl team didn’t have enough players to compete in the tournament. But the middle school did — barely.
“We took a rag tag, bare bones team of six girls, knocked on wood that no one would get hurt, and competed,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “The girls played with heart and stepped it up, and took second place. It was pretty cool having an all-Payson championship match.”
The Go Girl team was 2-1 in pool play, beating Show Low 21-13 and Round Valley 21-17 and falling to Club Payson 21-17. In double-elimination bracket play, Payson’s Go Girl team then beat Round Valley 21-12, 13-21, 15-3, lost to Club Payson 18-21, 19-21 and beat Show Low 25-17 and Round Valley 25-18 to make the title match, which Club Payson won 21-17.
The Go Girl squad featured setter Yessica Benitez, right side hitter Charlotte Sorensen, middle hitters Elena Burciaga and Brianna McDermott, and outside hitters Erica Herrera and Cassie Nell.
“What was neat was how hard the girls played and how well they performed, even though three of the six never made the middle school team, nor made the club team,” Stonebrink said. “Also, three girls had to play positions they’d never/rarely played before. I was very proud of their grit.”
Kailey Carnes led Club Payson to the championship.
“We were 0-3 against them, although we mostly played them tough,” Stonebrink said. “Kailey Carnes provided the most damage. She served tough against us all tournament, plus set and hit very well.”
Club Payson’s JV team was unbeaten in the tournament. “They looked very good and disciplined,” Stonebrink said.