SPRINGVILLE — In a match filled with playoff intensity, the Payson Lions waltzed into Springville and walked away with a four-game victory 25-21, 25-18, 23-25, 25-8.
Payson finished off the Region 6 season with a 4-6 record, which cemented a fourth-place finish and a state tournament play-in game against Mountain View on Nov. 3. The win, coupled with a Spanish Fork loss to Region 6 champion Provo, gave the Lions soul possession of fourth and the date with the Bruins. Provo's sweep of the Dons left 3-7 Spanish Fork on the outside looking in.
Springville's loss and an American Fork victory over winless Timpview found the Red Devils sitting in third with a 6-4 final region record and left the 7-3 Cavemen with the No. 2 seed.
Both teams knew just how significant their final match of the regular season was, and they lived up to the moment with a top-quality first game, but the Lions had just a little more at the end to finish it off and take the 1-0 lead.
"My whole team played awesome," said Payson coach Jodie Beck. "That is the best they've played as a team all year. They just played so well."
She didn't want to single any one player out, but she noted that Aubrey Orton and Delenna Ralph, her middle blockers, clogged up the net and didn't let the Springville hitters get much through. Kylie Mattinson and Sandy Marvin "picked up a lot of good balls" with amazing digs and gave the Lions good shots at getting the ball back over the net just where they wanted it.
Payson wasn't merely playing for a lock on the fourth seed and a play-in spot; they also wanted revenge on the earlier sweep the Red Devils laid on them in their first meeting this season.
Though it was nearly impossible for Springville to find any holes in the Lions' defense, they took it to the Red Devils offensively as well. Marvin finished with 16 kills and Mattinson had 10 to lead the team. Orton finished with eight and Ralph had six to complete the balanced attack.
Danielle Taylor had a breakout game for Springville and helped keep the Red Devils competitive through most of the match with her 16 kill effort, Nikki Sly added 10, Cori Neilson had seven and Alexis Aegerter hammered six.
There were plenty of kills pounded down in the first game as the teams combined for 28. The level of play in Game 2 fell off slightly offensively, but neither defense was daunted. Payson used the momentum they earned by winning the final four points in Game 1 and took an early lead then found themselves tied at nine before they took charge and finished it off.
Springville fought back into the match in Game 3, though after leading most of the game, they did give the lead away to the Lions at 21-22 and again at 22-23 before finally finishing it off to send it to Game 4.
But the fourth game wasn't good to the Red Devils as Payson took charge and left no doubt which team wanted the victory more.
Payson gave away only one point on a service error in the entire match, and that point didn't come until they found themselves up 20-8 in Game 4 after the win was a virtual lock. A lack of mistakes and big-time hustle breathed life into a post season for Payson.
In other action Tuesday:
VIEWMONT DEF. FREMONT 25-12, 25-11, 25-10:Arial Salvo paced the Vikings with 15 kills.
DAVIS DEF. WEBER 16-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-19:Haley Reeves and Cami Douglas contributed eight kills each for Davis. Douglas also added six blocks.
ALTA DEF. JORDAN 25-12, 21-25, 25-17, 25-22:Sharae Harrison's six blocks sparked Alta to the win.
BRIGHTON DEF. BINGHAM 25-22, 25-24, 25-16: Brighton swept Bingham behind the strong play of Marisa Vandersteen (13 kills, one block) and Annie Kelley (eigth kills, one block). Kris Hymas had eight kills and Megan Marks had five blocks for the Miners.
COTTONWOOD DEF. HUNTER 16-25, 25-18, 25-15, 25-12:Tasi Talia and Jennifer Johnson led a powerful Colt offense with 19 and 13 kills, respectively. With the win in their final region match, the Colts earn the region title with an undefeated record. Celestial Alofipo led Hunter with 21 kills.
KEARNS DEF. GRANGER 25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 25-14: Kearns picks up its first win over the rival Lancers.
SKYLINE DEF. TAYLORSVILLE 19-25, 25-19, 25-20, 14-25, 15-13: Skyline edged Taylorsville in a tough five game match. The Eagles' Joh-Teena Filipe made the difference with key kills late.
BOUNTIFUL DEF. EAST 25-19, 25-21, 23-25, 25-14: The Braves were powered by Andrea Johnson's seven kills, seven aces and 18 digs. Ashlyn McDowell helped Bountiful with six kills and 6 blocks.
HIGHLAND DEF. OLYMPUS 25-15, 25-18, 25-20: Valerie Iloa's .818 hit percentage was her highest for this season, and led Highland to the win.
MURRAY DEF. CYPRUS 25-14, 25-14, 25-22: Murray finished perfect in Region 5 with the win over Cyprus. Blakely Peppinger led the Spartans with 40 assists.
WOODS CROSS DEF. WEST 29-27, 26-24, 25-23:Kathryn Lovell held the Wildcats backcourt with 14 kills.
INTERMOUNTAIN CHRISTIAN DEF. WASATCH ACADEMY 25-15, 25-14, 25-19:Rebekah Jongert and Ashley Moore combined for 10 kills.
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE DEF. EAST CARBON 25-21, 25-22, 25-21: Lisa Allen led Christian Heritage with 26 service points.