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When the Sedona Red Rock High School volleyball team departed for its match at Payson High School on Tuesday, Sept. 5, it did not know it would be in for a long afternoon.

The Scorpions’ iconic purple bus broke down outside of Camp Verde, leaving the team sitting in triple-digit heat for an hour and a half before the game. On the way home, the new bus hit a bear crossing the highway.

The Scorpions [3-0] pulled out a 3-2 victory over the Longhorns, but not without some hiccups along the way there, too.


“It was a big win for us, we had to battle,” Scorpions co-head coach Danni Barker said. “It showed resilience and competitiveness. Payson is a good team. It was big for us, but we still didn’t play as well as we need to.”

Barker said the team did not warm up well, but still opened a two game lead [25-21, 25-22]. Games three and four were not so smooth.

To Payson’s credit, it touts junior middle Raegen Ashby, who, standing at 6’2”, was intimidating at the net. There was a streak of five missed serves at one point, and numerous overpasses that Ashby easily used her height to pound to the floor.

The Longhorns took game three 15-25 and game four 21-25 before Red Rock found its way again, winning the decisive set 15-8.

“For some reason it fell apart in the third and fourth,” Barker said. “I think they got tired in the third and fourth. They were dehydrated, lost focus and things stopped working.”

Only three matches in, the Scorpions are still working on their new, quicker offense. Barker said they tried more of the plays they are less comfortable with, but the tightness of the match prevented them from doing as much as they wanted.

“We were never really in control; it was pretty scattered,” Barker said. “We weren’t able to execute everything we wanted because we were never really in a comfort zone to experiment.

“We ran more plays than normal, but not as cleanly executed or as often as needed.”

Individually, she highlighted the play of senior outside hitter Julia Koss and senior libero Liza Westervelt. Aside from taking care of business during game play, Barker is happy with how they motivate and talk to their teammates on the floor.

The team traveled south to face off with 3A Wickenburg High School on Thursday, Sept. 7, where they swept the Wranglers 3-0 [25-18, 25-21, 25-12]. It next plays at Phoenix Christian High School on Thursday, Sept. 14, before going to the Wolves Classic, at Estrella Foothills High School, on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15 and 16.

NOTE: This story was updated on Sept. 8 with the score from the Wickenburg match, which was unavailable at press time for the print edition.

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