Sports Stories

The final tune up before diving into Central Region action was a mostly successful one for the Sedona Red Rock High School volleyball team.

Finishing 2-3 at the big Chandler Prep Volleyball Invite, which featured 80 teams, was a somewhat deceiving record. The Scorpions played against a number of big schools, and most importantly, against region rival Glendale Preparatory Academy.

“Overall we played not bad. We were in every match we played,” Scorpions co-head coach Danni Barker said. “There wasn’t a team we couldn’t beat.”

Opening things on Saturday, Sept. 30, was a matchup with Verrado High School, No. 15 in the 5A rankings as of Wednesday, Oct. 4. Red Rock, No. 10 in 2A, was swept 14-25, 22-25, and sent into the loser bracket of the platinum division.

Nonetheless, Barker was happy with the performance.

“Even in that match we really didn’t get blown out,” Barker said. “We still need to connect with our hitters, we passed really good, but our serve receive fell apart.”

Connecting setters with the hitters has been the recurring thorn in the team’s side throughout the formative part of the season.

Barker and co-coach and husband Mic have insisted on running a 6-2 offense, meaning that two setters can find outside hitters and middles for attacks.
Stevenson and Cowboys junior outside hitter Carlee Oesterreich meet at the net for a joust (left). Red Rock improved to 3-0 in Central Region play with the win, and will have played five region matches by week’s end. Recently, they transitioned to a 5-1, keeping just sophomore Morgan Fritz in to set.

Sophomore Amari Sonn moved to more of a defensive role, which paid dividends.

“[Sonn] did a great job in the back row,” Danni Barker said. “She plays the same three rotations, she’s really quick and doing really well.”

The final match of the tournament saw the Scorpions fall 1-2 [16-25, 29-27, 3-15] to Glendale Prep. The Griffins are also ranked No. 3 in Conference 2A.

Once the Griffins started rolling, the Scorpions had a hard time stopping them.

“I think we’re still improving. We made adjustments with Glendale Prep, we started blocking,” Danni said. “We can still get better with middle blocking, we’re still progressing.”

On the other hand another of the Scorpions’ recurring nightmares came to life; mental toughness. With nothing but a tough region schedule ahead, it will likely be one of the tilting points.

“We have to be mentally ready,” Danni said. “In that second set [against the Griffins] they played really hard. They got up on us and we couldn’t stop it.”

On Friday, Sept. 29, the first match was a 25-19, 25-14 sweep of 4A Mogollon High School before seeing the other side of the coin in a 20-25, 16-25 loss to 4A Nogales High School.

The final match of the day was a sweep of 2A foe Tonopah Valley High School [25-18, 25-20].

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, the Scorpions hosted Camp Verde High School, winning 3-0 [25-6, 25-6, 25-15].

Central Region Standings

Team Region Overall*
Glendale Prep 5-0 11-0
Sedona Red Rock 3-0 9-1
Paradise Honors 3-2 5-8
Northland Prep 2-3 7-4
Camp Verde 1-4 1-10
Mingus Mountain Academy  0-5 0-6
*in AIA power-point matches

They continued region play with Paradise Honors High School, which they already beat 3-1 on Sept. 26, on Thursday, Oct. 5, but results were unavailable at press time.

Their third match in four days is set for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 6, at No. 15-ranked Northland Preparatory Academy, another strog region opponent.