Payson’s Go Girl junior high volleyball team won Saturday’s tournament at Show Low.
“The junior high girls did a great job,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink.
“The competition was good, and it seemed that most of the time was crunch time. But the girls dug down and played consistently and tough.”
Payson earned the No. 1 seed for the double-elimination bracket play by going 5-1 in pool play. Payson rolled over St. Johns 15-8, 15-4; split with the Show Low B Team 15-7, 13-15; and beat the Show Low A Team 15-13, 15-10.
A couple of strong servers helped Show Low A jump ahead of Payson 9-1 in the first set of bracket play. Payson rallied, but wound up falling 17-21. However, Payson figured out how to handle their servers and won the next two sets 21-12, 15-6 to move on to face Show Low B.
Trailing 17-20, Payson got a side out and Nevaeh Guerrero nailed two aces to tie it, then scored a service winner as Payson pulled out a 21-20 win. Show Low B led 17-9 in the second set. Payson stormed back to take a 20-19 lead, but Show Low B scored the final two points to win 21-20.
In the third and final set, Payson jumped ahead early to win 15-12 and advance to the title match, where the girls faced Show Low B again after that squad emerged from the losers bracket.
Behind “a buzz saw server,” Show Low B rallied from a 20-15 deficit to score seven straight points and win the first set 22-20. Payson won the next set 21-17. The third set was tied at 9-9 before Payson took the lead and won 11-9 on an Elena Burciaga service winner.
“Maria De Lara Cornejo and Nevaeh Guerrero were lights out serving,” Stonebrink said. “They led the team in aces, with 15 and 9, respectively, and in efficiency with 1.41 and 1.48, respectively. They, along with Lauren Murray, each had over 60 percent of the serves resulting in service winners.”
Burciaga, Erica Herrera and Guerrero were the passing leaders. Guerrero, Cornejo and Burciaga each hit “phenomenally — around .600,” the coach said.
Guerrero and Yessica Benitez handled the setting chores. The coach said Charlotte Sorensen, Cassie Nell and Deborah Glasscock also played well.
“The difference in being able to win it all was strong hitting all day, strong serving all day, and strong passing that wavered only during a couple stretches when we ran into killer servers,” Stonebrink said.
“The last difference was the girls elevating their play in crunch time. We won all three set-threes, and were 5-0 in must-win sets. It was nerves of steel for these young ladies. It ought to bode well for them in the future.”
The high school team did not have enough girls to field a team this time.