After leading the Lady Longhorns to East division runners-up and on into the quarterfinals of the state tournament, first-year volleyball coach Sue Weems has been busy doling out postseason honors.
But, before acknowledging the accomplishments of individuals, Weems is quick to point out that the Lady Horns' effort extended from top to bottom in the line-up.
"The girls played as a team and everyone contributed. By working hard, they had a season they can really be proud of," she said.
Four of the team members-- Cassie Fulp, Nikki Scholl, Rheanna Martinez and Sara Schmidt --were tapped to postseason all-star teams in a voting of prep coaches.
Fulp, Scholl and Martinez were chosen to the East All-division first team. Schmidt was named Honorable Mention All-division.
In addition to being an All-East selection, Martinez was earlier chosen as the East tournament's Most Valuable Player.
In September, she was chosen to the Payson Invitational All-Tournament team.
Plaudits continued to flow in over the weekend when she was named to the Class 3A All-State Tournament team.
Just about every honor that can be bestowed on an athlete went to the Lady Longhorn middle hitter who is only a junior.
The prospect of her returning to the Horn lineup next season has local coaches and fans beaming. In volleyball circles around the East division, foes are cringing at the thought of her returning a year older, wiser and more powerful.
In addition to the contributions of Martinez, the Lady Horns received spirited efforts from the squad's four seniors --Ketchem, Scholl, Fulp, and Schmidt.
One of Ketchem's best outings came against East champion Snowflake when she recorded seven defensive digs and four kills in a single game.
In postseason play she was even better, Weems said. "Eve was a strong asset off the bench, able to go in to serve or pass for anyone."
Ketchem opened the 1999 campaign in August as a setter with three years' experience but was asked to switch to the outside hitter slot.
She responded to the change well, Weems said. "Many times early in the season, she would stay after practice to work on her hits and constantly asked what she could do to get better."
In addition to her offensive contributions, she was capable of playing standout D.
"She also learned a new position defensively and improved every-day gaining confidence and skill," Weems said. "She did a great job."
As a three-year varsity letter-winner, Scholl's experience during crunch time was a big contributor to the Horns' success. Her play-making ability from the setter position was also crucial to the Longhorn offensive attack.
"She had an average of eight assists a match and really came on as far as blocking," Weems said. The youngster averaged almost two blocks per contest.
Scholl was at her playing best against Chino Valley when she served 12 of 23 points in the match.
Also, against Holbrook early in the season, she had two blocks and six defensive digs in just one game.
In all-important postseason play, "she continued to serve well, hit stronger than ever and was able to utilize the shoot-set more effectively," Weems said.
As the second setter in the PHS lineup, Fulp, was a varsity four-year letter winner who thrived on her court moxie.
"She has some great experience and averaged 10 assists a match, setting many different combinations and plays," Weems said.
One of Fulp's best outings occurred against Round Valley when she served 15 of Payson's 30 points.
Weems also cited her play during the Payson Invitational when she chalked up over 25 digs in the two-day tournament.
"That was great defense," the coach said.
Fulp also was one of the most successful servers on the team, averaging eight points a match.
As a middle hitter and blocker, Schmidt turned in a pair of head-turning performances against Snowflake and Show Low.
Playing the Lobos, she recorded six blocks and against the Cougars, had seven kills.
Weems isn't a bit shy about praising Schmidt. "She has improved so much on defense and has played all the way around the floor, passing and covering well. She is hitting the short set, back set and in the past weeks, developed a hit from the back row.'
During the postseason, the coach said "she continued to be a force at the net in both hitting and blocking."
The Lady Longhorn teams, including freshmen and jayvees, will celebrate the culmination of the highly successful season Monday evening at the annual year-end awards ceremony.
As of press time, Weems was searching for a location for the banquet. The start time is to be announced soon.