The Verde Valley’s favorite volleyball team is back for more this fall as the Sedona Red Rock High girls look to continue their quest for a 3A state championship, something they missed out on last year.
Ranked No. 4 going into the 2008 3A state volleyball championships last November, the Scorpions were handed a tough draw and lost in the first round to Holbrook High, 3-1.
A 3-1 defeat might sound like a lot to the normal volleyball fan but a line score of 25-21, 25-27, 23-25 and 16-25 is as close as it gets, folks.
The loss signaled the end of one of the best seasons in Sedona volleyball history as the Scorpions finished 16-4 overall including a perfect 12-0 mark in the 3A-West, earning themselves a regular season region title.
With last year’s successes now in the past, Sedona Head Coach John Parks and his volleyball team look to the immediate future. With two weeks of practice already under their belts, it’s looking like these Scorpions are primed to make another run at a state title.
“I’m mostly concerned about team chemistry at this point. We have the talent to win. It’s a matter of how we gel together in the coming months,” Parks said.
Sedona will look to replace the irreplaceable as 2008 3A-West MVP and senior Hayley McCord graduated along with teammate Tori Talkington.
The pair, especially McCord, Parks said, is one of the best, if not the best, leaders he’s ever had in the Scorpion volleyball program.
Talkington and McCord were “team first” players Parks said, and replacing them this season will be tough.
The talent is certainly there as the Scorpions return eight players from last year’s team, three of whom are seniors.
Those seniors include setter Logan Reilly and middle blockers Shelby Brekke and Katie Adams.
Reilly and Brekke were first team All-Region performers last season and Adams received an honorable mention award.
Other top returners include four juniors in outside hitters Chelsea Strong and Rachel Cook, defensive specialist Sarah Schlener and setter Ashtian Swartz.
Strong was nominated by league coaches as a second team All-Region performer.
Sophomore opposite hitter Katie Furlong is the youngest of the eight returning players for Sedona. She made headlines during a freshman campaign last season with her surprising play under pressure.
Five senior newcomers also made the Scorpion volleyball team this season in opposite hitter Jesse Powers, setter Kayla Parks, outside hitters Stephanie McIlroy and Lakeeda Wilson along with Jacqueline Strong.
The other newcomer is sophomore opposite Eilis Bracken, a junior varsity player from last season.
When asked how he plans to balance playing time when there are only six spots on the floor and 14 players on the roster, Parks had this to say:
“It’s my job to find what works. I will play the players that give us the best chance to win. There shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve had my discussions with the coaching staff and the players. They all know where they stand.”
Parks went on to say his team strength this year will be the blocking part of volleyball, adding this is the most size he’s had in a long time.
Of course one looks to the schedule for the 2009 season and if there was one game to point out it would be the Mingus Union High matchup Tuesday, Sept. 1.
The cross-valley rivals will meet up right here in Sedona with Mingus holding the upper hand after beating the Scorpions last season.
Before the Scorpions play Mingus they will look to fine-tune their game in the first matchup of the season against Orme High on Tuesday, Aug. 25.
Official starting time is scheduled for 5 p.m.