Sports Stories
The best part of the season for any sport in any part of the country would be the postseason and Arizona 3A state volleyball is no different.
By Brian Bergner Jr.
Larson Newspapers

The best part of the season for any sport in any part of the country would be the postseason and Arizona 3A state volleyball is no different.

The No. 15-ranked Sedona Red Rock High volleyball team traveled south to Peoria High to play the No. 2-seed Safford High in the first round of the state tournament on Nov. 2.

Even though the girls put forth their best effort of the season, they came up just short and lost three heart-wrenching games in a row and were eliminated from playoff contention.

“We played our best match of the season. What a performance by those girls,” Sedona head coach John Parks said.

Back on Oct. 27, Sedona played through the 3A-West regional tournament and lost in the championship game to Parker High.

No. 3-ranked Parker went on to win four matches in a row including beating Safford in the semi-finals to win the 3A state championship last weekend.

“It just shows you how close this field really was. Our girls all think that Parker wasn’t much better then us this season,” Parks said.

In game one, the gym was electric as both teams easily boasted 100 fans for each squad.

Every point, every missed opportunity drew loud shouts or chants from that crowd.

Sedona took a 16-12 lead before Safford called a time-out to discuss what was going on.

After the time out and before Sedona could blink, Safford had tied the game 18-18.

“We came out with high intensity. I think both teams were ready for this match,” senior middle Erica Mark said.

Sedona regained their composure and took a 21-19 lead on an amazing kill by junior Tori Talkington.

The ball came right to her after teammate Shelby Brekke saved it from going out of bounds.

Talkington hit the ball as hard as she could and it knuckled right past the Bulldogs defense for a big Sedona point.

A bus-load of kids on the Sedona side went nuts and Talkington and her teammates couldn’t stop laughing together because of the amazing play.

Sedona ran with the momentum and built a 24-20 lead. Safford called another time-out.

Just like the last time, the Bulldogs came charging back and took all of Sedona’s momentum and tied it 24-24.

“We’ve done that half a dozen times this season where we get one point away and we just can’t close it out,” Parks said.

Safford continued on the momentum train on a one-way ticket to victory in game one, 26-24.

“We had a few mental errors and didn’t recover,” Parks said.

Game two was like watching a rerun of a favorite television show as Sedona took another 16-12 lead and again allowed Safford right back in to win it 25-23.

Game three was a little more on the Bulldogs’ side and they certainly didn’t give an inch as they took an 11-5 lead and never looked back to win the game and send Sedona home, 25-20.

“I think we may have got a little cocky and at the same time, nervous. Every game was close and we played very well,” senior outside hitter Brittiny Saenz said.

With the loss, Sedona wraps up its wonderful season with a 26-20 [8-4] record.

Parks believes the game against Safford was one of the best matches his team has played all season long, and his team agrees.

“This is the closest team I’ve been around in my four years here. I appreciate being a part of it,” Mark said.

Brian Bergner Jr. can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 131, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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