Lady Horns Net Postseason Honors

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In a voting of coaches at season's end, four members of the Lady Longhorn volleyball squad were named to the 1998 All-Central Division team.

Selection to the all-star team is one of the greatest postseason honors a high school athlete can receive since it is based on the assessments of opposing coaches who evaluate the player during the heat of battle.

Those honored from Payson include Cassie Fulp, Rheanna Martinez, Heather Branstetter and Stephanie Robertson.

Fulp, a junior setter, has been an integral part of the Longhorn volleyball program since her freshman year.

In addition to being a three-year letter winner, she has been selected to the all-division team two consecutive years. She is also the 1998 team captain.

PHS Steve Konvalin said he expects to build the 1999 team around Fulp. "We are really lucky to have her another year," he said.

Martinez, a sophomore middle hitter, is one of Payson's most gifted athletes.

Along with excelling in volleyball, she's an all-division performer for the Lady Longhorn basketball team and a standout sprinter and jumper on the track and field squad.

Martinez, Konvalin said, "did an awesome job this year. She is one of our best hitters and passers."

The coach expects great things from the youngster during her final two years in high school. "She will be an impact player next year and one of the more dominating players in the (3A) conference," he said.

Both athletes return to the Horn fold in 1999, but Konvalin will be forced to do without Branstetter and Robertson who are seniors and will graduate next spring.

As a setter, Branstetter played on the varsity team only one season, but it was a banner campaign capped with the selection to the celestial squad.

Being chosen, she said, was a huge honor.

Replacing her, Konvalin said, "will be tough because of her ability and attitude. She did a great job. Coaches really took notice of her."

Branstetter said the greatest thrill of the season occurred in the Central Division tournament held in late November in Wilson dome. There, the Lady Horns surprisingly won three straight matches to capture the divisional crown.

Despite the rigors of the marathon-like matches, winning the tournament, Branstetter said, "was a lot of fun."

In Robertson, the Horns had an athlete best known for her exploits in track and field.

As a nationally-ranked heptathlete, she has set Arizona records and traveled the United State competing against the best the country has to offer.

Last season, she opted to join the Lady Horns inaugural soccer team but decided at the onset of this school year to switch to volleyball.

She worked her way into becoming one of the best middle hitters in the 3A conference. Robertson's exploits on the court quickly drew raves from both fans and opposing coaches.

One of her biggest admirers has been Konvalin who was spewing praise at season's end.

"She is a great athlete and has a great attitude. She was basically our impact player for this year," he said. "I wish we could have her for another year."

In addition to Central honors, Robertson drew honorable mention all-tournament plaudits at November's Class 3A Arizona State finals.

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