Sports Stories

An overall lack of energy sunk the No. 11-ranked Sedona Red Rock High School volleyball team against No. 7 Glendale Preparatory Academy, falling 0-3 [21-25 24-26, 11-25] on Tuesday, Oct. 10.

The Scorpions [11-2, 5-1] and the Griffins [12-1, 6-0] squared off for sole possession of first place in the Central Region. Red Rock was at its best when it had energy, but was flat during key stretches, committing a number of errors.

“We did not bring our game, we had no energy and we did not talk at all,” Scorpions co-head coach Danni Barker said. “They just are not being aware of their surroundings and mentally they just weren’t engaged tonight, and I don’t know why.”

Perhaps the worst news was that the Griffins were without their best outside hitter, junior Jessica Vargas. Both Barker and senior outside hitter Julia Koss thought that knowing she was not on the floor played a part mentally.

And much like the teams’ first matchup at the Chandler Prep Volleyball Invite on Sept. 30, they did not bring their best game.

But things did not start off poorly for the Scorpions.

After the team’s 3-2 comeback win over Northland Preparatory Academy on Friday, Oct. 6, Barker said that the team needed to be pumped up from the first point. It was at the start of the first set.

A pair of services aces by senior libero Liza Westervelt was sandwiched by two kills from sophomore outside hitter Jacki King, and the Scorpions led 4-1.

The lead increased to 10-5 after King had a pair of aces along with two Koss kills, and Red Rock appeared to be cruising.

“Literally when we have no energy we always play bad, when we do have energy we rock it every single time,” Koss said.

Which is what happened next. The energy, and lead, dwindled, and Glendale Prep led 19-16.

The Griffins got their final three points to close out the set by way of a Scorpions hitting error, a hard-earned point kept alive by a pancake, and finally finished on a service ace by junior libero Brittney Shawel.

Game two was back-and-forth until Glendale Prep took off on a 10-5 run to open an 18-13 lead. Red Rock’s attacks packed less of a punch, and Griffins sophomore setter Caitlin Kao, who is No. 2 in all of Arizona in service aces, hit three consecutively.

“We’re going to work on serve receive because that’s definitely where we lacked,” Koss said. “[Kao’s] floats are insane.”

Unforced errors dealt the Scorpions a blow in the latter stages of the set. Two kills from the right side by Griffins senior middle blocker Issa Martell made it 24-17, but the energy returned, and Red Rock had one more run left.

Consecutive King kills pulled it within five. A Glendale Prep hitting error, a tip by sophomore setter Morgan Fritz, and a soft touch by junior right side Abby Stevenson made it 24-23.

Central Region Standings

Team Region Overall*
Glendale Prep 6-0 12-1
Sedona Red Rock 5-1 11-2
Paradise Honors 3-3  5-9
Northland Prep 3-4 8-5 
Camp Verde 1-5 1-13 
Mingus Mountain 0-5 0-6
*in power-point matches

King knotted it up with another kill, but her dig on the next Griffins attack soared out and she hit the net on the next attack, and the hosts lost the set 26-24.

In that first matchup two weeks ago, Red Rock’s worst set was the third of the best-of-three match, losing 15-3.
The same would happen this time around, too.

The Scorpions committed a total of 16 errors, more than a handful coming on net violations, the rest on service, blocking or hitting errors.

Kao took control of the serve with her team up 12-9. The Griffins went on a 7-0 run to inflate their lead to 19-9; a pair of her aces book-ended that streak.

Fritz finished with 22 assists while King and Koss had nine and seven kills, respectively.

Red Rock now sits in second place in the region with four matches left, and Barker made it clear what her team has got to do: Win out.

The Scorpions’ next match is at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, against Mingus Mountain Academy.