Sedona Red Rock Junior High School’s volleyball team reached the semifinals of the Arizona Small School State Championship tournament on Friday, Nov. 3, but after consecutive losses finished without placing.
After coming back to beat Rock Point Community School 2-1 [26-28, 25-19, 15-10], the team lost to STAR School in the semifinal 2-0 [18-25, 14-25]. At one point the Scorpions led the first set 18-13, then STAR eighth grader Gracelyn Nez took over.
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“She was spiking the ball like a high school girl,” Scorpions head coach Pedro Ortega said. “She was amazing, let me tell you. She went to serve and she had a mean serve, by the time she got to serve she beat us by herself.”
The final match of the season was against late season rival Beaver Creek School. Beaver Creek beat Red Rock in the last regular season match. Then the Scorpions got revenge in the championship game of the Verde Valley Athletic Association.
Victory returned to the side of the Bobcats, winning 2-0 [24-26, 23-25]. Red Rock led 24-20 in the first set.
“We couldn’t put them away and they managed a good rally,” Ortega said. “It’s a good rivalry, they played better than us and they deserved to win.”
In the Nov. 3 match, the first set was back-and-forth. After being tied at 18, Red Rock went up 24-22, but Rock Point tied the match again at 26-26 before sneaking away with the win.
Momentum shifted halfway through the second set, Ortega said, and the Scorpions took over. They managed to put Rock Point away in the third set.
“Our first game, defense and spiking the ball we did a great job,” Ortega said. “The first game we were obviously nervous and they were a good team. We kind of regrouped and we responded very well.”
Red Rock eighth grader Stephanie Medel-Garcia was named to the All-Tournament Team, and Ortega said that another girl was to be announced to the team, but had not been by press time on Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Between the A and B teams, the Scorpions volleyball program ended the regular season with a 22-2 record. The B team went undefeated.
Aside from the obvious improvement in skill development, Ortega said the team improved its mental toughness greatly. It showed when it won the VVAA title against Beaver Creek.
“Working as a team. Obviously defensively and offensively we came a long way, and that’s why we did really well at our regional tournament,” Ortega said. “I think overall every girl improved, even from the B team. I’m very excited for the future.”