Sedona Red Rock High School’s volleyball team spoiled Central Region foe Northland Preparatory Academy’s homecoming with a five-set win on Oct. 6.
The Scorpions would not allow the Spartans to return the favor in a 3-1 [25-22, 25-14, 16-25, 25-22] win on senior night, during homecoming week, on Tuesday, Oct. 24.
Red Rock [14-3, 8-2] went up 2-0 before the visitors [11-6, 5-5] won the third set marred with errors. The hosts claimed victory in the fourth, never trailing but ceding a tie on six separate occasions.
“I was very happy that the seniors forced their will on the underclassmen, because the seniors just refused to lose tonight,” Scorpions co-head coach Danni Barker said. “Everybody did, it was a team effort, but Liza [Westervelt] and Julia [Koss] had a few choice words when we were down.”
Four seniors were honored before the game: Chenoa Crans, Jo Toscano, Westervelt and Koss. But with the win, they again took the floor at Doc Adams Gymnasium against No. 20 Chandler Preparatory Academy in a Conference 2A play-in game on Thursday, Oct. 26. Results were unavailable at press time.
Against the Spartans, the return of sophomore setter Mary Westervelt allowed other players to take up new roles on the court, with the Scorpions’ blocking the most eye-catching beneficiary.
One of those players was 5-foot-9-inch sophomore Morgan Fritz, formerly the setter, who shifted to middle blocker. Fritz combined with Mary Westervelt in the middle and closed out blocks on the edges with three outside hitters: sophomore Jacki King and seniors Koss and Crans.
They rejected or tipped at least 16 Northland Prep attacks, making life easier for the back row defenders.
“I think having Mary in the front row helps, we’ve really been working on setting the blocks,” Barker said. “I think Mary and Morgan work really well together in the middle .... When we have Jacki, Morgan and Mary in the front row, it’s a big block. And then Julia sets a really nice block.”
Red Rock trailed during the early and middle stages of the first set. King hit two service aces to go up 6-4 during a stretch of six points that resulted in service aces or errors.
Koss converted a quick shoot set to cut the deficit to 13-10, and the Scorpions eventually tied it at 15. They trailed again by as many as three, finally taking their first lead at 22-21 off of a King kill, their first since going up 7-6.
King and junior right side Abby Stevenson combined for a double block, Crans converted a kill from the middle and King tooled the Spartans’ block to finish the set off.
The Scorpions rode a wave of momentum through the second set, never trailing. Koss rose up for a kill from the outside to make it 12-6, forcing a Spartans timeout. The lead continued to swell as Northland Prep committed a number of hitting errors and the Scorpions remained well in system. With kills by Koss, Fritz and a service ace by sophomore Amari Sonn sprinkled in, Red Rock won 25-14.
“I think we passed pretty well. When we got to the ball we got a good pass up and we definitely improved our blocking,” Koss said. “It’s all coming together.”
An early Scorpions advantage in the third set turned into a wide deficit down the stretch. They led by as many as three at 7-4 off of a Spartans service error.
King was blocked to knot the game at nine, and Northland Prep took off on an 8-1 run to take control. A host of errors fueled the run, the most glaring making it 17-10 for the Spartans.
After King dropped in an off-speed hit near the antenna, and with the ball falling, the Scorpions six thought they had the point. However a desperation dig and a simple free ball into the backcourt silenced the crowd’s preemptive celebration.
“Third set we just kind of let off a little bit, things didn’t go our way, we didn’t play well, communication kind of stopped,” Barker said.
The closest Red Rock got was 17-13 before an 8-3 run saw the Spartans stave off the sweep. It regrouped before the fourth set.
“We know what we did wrong, it was all mental mistakes and we just had to fix them,” Liza Westervelt said.
Fritz and King were responsible for four of the team’s first six points to open the fourth and final set. They opened things with a double block, then King made it 4-1 on a thundering kill before Fritz had a block and a kill to make it 6-1.
Northland Prep reeled the Scorpions in with a pair of blocks of its own plus a Toscano service error. The duo of Spartans outside hitters in senior Rebecca Gerety and junior Sofie Linskey kept the visitors in it, converting their final kills to make it 24-22 and 24-23.
Koss, whose cross-court attacks were consistently dug on the line all match long, opted to go off speed for the match-winner.
Mary Westervelt had 24 assists, King led the way with 12 kills, and Liza Westervelt had nine digs, unofficially.
Central Region Standings
|Sedona Red Rock||8-2||14-3|
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