With the onset of preseason volleyball practices only weeks away, Lady Longhorn volleyball coach Steve Konvalin was looking for a way to prepare his prep squad for the rigors of play. The Horns compete this year in the rough-and-tumble East Division against such powerhouses as Show Low, Snowflake and Round Valley.
The best the coach could come up with was a July 16 and 17 visit to Lakeside, where 15 teams gathered for the Blue Ridge Summer Tournament.
There, the team's effort gave cause for a new optimism in Konvalin.
"We played really well, especially the younger girls who went along," he said.
In tournament opening pool play, the Payson squad finished with 7-5 credentials and earned a berth into a final double-elimination tournament.
There, the Rim netters finished third overall, compiling a 5-2 record. Payson's wins came at the expense of Mesa Westwood B, Blue Ridge, Pima, St. Johns and Lake Havasu. Its two losses were to Westwood A and Snowflake.
Only three returning starters from last year's team - Rheanna Martinez, Cassie Fulp and Nikki Scholl - made the trip, but all were forces for foes to reckon with, Konvalin said.
A foursome who will be sophomores next year also participated, including Stephanie Marrs, Felicia Klemstein, Samantha Ellsworth and Reyann Burba.
"They picked up a lot of good experience," Konvalin said.
From last year's jayvee team, Eve Ketchum and Brianna Marshall battled in Lakeside to improve their chances at earning a varsity slot this season.
A three-day tryout session for the 1999 PHS teams will begin Aug. 9 in the Wilson dome. Konvalin said he and his staff had not settled on an exact time.
After the tryouts, the varsity squad will be pared to 10 players, the jayvee to either 10,11 or 12 and the freshman to 12, Konvalin said.
Athletes should report to the sessions with their physicals completed and all paperwork turned in to the office of Athletic Director Barry Smith.