Payson opened the Go Girl varsity club volleyball season by winning the Show Low tournament on Saturday.
“It was a very nice win, especially since we had only one senior and no juniors,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “We had six sophomores and a freshman.”
PHS went 1-2, beating and alumni team called Tiffany 25-19, and losing to a stronger alumni team called Shelby, as well as Show Low. That left Payson as the No. 3 seed entering the single-elimination bracket.
The Longhorns faced No. 2 Show Low in the semifinals, having lost to them 25-19 in pool play. PHS avenged the earlier loss with a 21-14, 21-16 victory to move onto the championship match against Shelby.
After falling to Shelby 25-17 in pool play, the Longhorns beat that team 18-21, 21-17, 17-15.
“Shelby has some players that can just flat-out play,” Stonebrink said. “Their best hitter, Joy Whiting, is the coach of Division IV state runner-up St. Johns. Whiting is tall, aggressive and intimidating as a hitter. She probably nailed a couple dozen kills against us.”
The coach said winning the tournament was big for his young squad.
“From a mental standpoint it was a big step for the young girls,” Stonebrink said. “They beat both teams they lost to in pool play. Payson dug deep, and performed at a higher level when it really mattered.”
Between Emmee Ashby, the only senior, sophomore Tessa Hintze and freshman Bea Lewinson, the middles produced 12 blocks/block assists, “which is a huge number,” the coach said. “Emmee alone recorded six of those.”
Sara Novack, who served five aces, had a “splendid tournament,” Stonebrink said. “She is hitting harder, and she hit a solid .353, with no errors, all from the most difficult front-row position to hit from, the right side.”
Outside hitter Taryn North hit .224 and Hintze hit .222.
“We hit a resounding .204,” the coach said. “As with serving, we had no dry runs hitting. And it was great to have so many girls hitting so well.”
Ashby led in kills (17) and passing (2.31 average out of 3 per serve-receive), serving, server efficiency and aces (seven).
Setter Kelsee Stonebrink hit .435, with 12 kills and two errors on 23 attempts, had three aces and led the team in assists. “She had good success pushing the ball deep and tipping it short and finding the open spots,” her father said.
Libero Lizbeth Ochoa was second in both serve-receiving (2.00) and serving (both in efficiency and aces, with five).
Lacey Standifird served three aces.
The coach said he’s happy to see the young players perform so well. “It was really nice to see such good participation and effort from them,” he said. “Hopefully it’s a good sign that they are ready to take the stage this fall.”
Payson’s middle school girls took second in the Go Girl Junior High tourney in Show Low. “It was a great showing for them, especially since there were so many of them that had never played school nor club ball before,” Stonebrink said.