Sedona Red Rock High School’s No. 13-ranked volleyball team entered the home stretch of its season without much room for error in order to keep its playoff hopes alive.
It did get reinforcement, as sophomore setter Mary Westervelt was cleared to play as of Saturday, Oct. 21. In Westervelt’s first match back in action, the team lost 3-0 [20-25, 12-25, 11-25] at Central Region leader and No. 6-ranked Glendale Preparatory Academy on Monday, Oct. 23.
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“We held them tight the first set and the second set we were up for a little while too,” Scorpions co-head coach Danni Barker said. “Their team is always in the right place when they’re supposed to be. We struggled getting into the correct defensive positions.”
The Griffins boast sophomore setter Caitlin Kao, who has the third-most service aces in the entire state at 125. They also saw the return of junior outside hitter Jessica Vargas, who was injured during the teams’ first matchup on Oct. 10.
“She’s a good player and they go to her anywhere on the court, front row, back row, it doesn’t matter,” Barker said.
While still without Westervelt, who had not played all season due to a head injury, the Scorpions began to sacrifice defense for offense in a 3-1 win [21-25, 25-13, 25-11, 25-11] at Camp Verde High School on Thursday, Oct. 18. After the first loss to Glendale Prep, Barker said, a change had to be made to generate a stronger attack, and players were moved to new positions.
Her presence reversed those changes the team had made, but there is still room for improvement, albeit without much time left.
“She needed to work on a few things she’s aware of but she did great,” Barker said. “What I’m hoping is that we get another game with Mary under our belt and things just start smoothing out. She needs to adjust a couple of her sets and hitters need to get used to hitting off of her.”
Westervelt’s return also saw sophomore Morgan Fritz, who had been setting, move to middle hitter. Barker pointed out that senior outside hitter Julia Koss also played well against Glendale Prep.
Monday’s loss to the Griffins did not end the team’s season, but it did mean its chances at qualifying for the state tournament were put into dire straits.
The team celebrated senior night against Northland Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Oct. 24, needing a win.
A win in that match would cement a second place finish in the region for the Scorpions and a berth in the Conference 2A play-in tournament on Thursday, Oct. 26, likely at home. The matchups for that tournament will be released on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
A loss would mean that the Scorpions would have to sneak in with one of the lowest seeds in the tournament and would play away on Oct. 26.