The upcoming East region schedule looms large in the Lady Longhorns' dreams and aspirations of earning a berth into the season-ending state volleyball tournament.
Victories in a series of four crucial East clashes would get the struggling Longhorns who recently dropped two regional showdowns on the winning track and steaming into postseason play.
The contests are set for today (Tuesday, in Lakeside vs. Blue Ridge), Oct. 4 (in Wilson Dome vs. Show Low), Oct. 9 (in Wilson Dome vs. Snowflake) and Oct. 9 (in Eagar vs. Round Valley).
Game times in all four matches is 4:30 p.m. (frosh), 5:30 p.m. (jayvee) and 6:30 p.m. (varsity).
Although the Lady Horns were outplayed in 2-0 losses to Snowflake Sept. 20, and five days later to Round Valley, first-year coach Chris Schwind said she is convinced the team can make it to the playoffs.
"Our varsity has the ability to compete and win these games," she said.
But to emerge victorious, Schwind said, the girls "need to become more confident in themselves and each other."
Also essential to the success of the Lady Horns, she said, will be for each player to prepare mentally and physically for each outing.
Two East defeats, one nonregion win
In the road loss to the highly regarded Lobos, the Horns were soundly thumped 15-3 and 15-3. Among the younger set, the PHS jayvees lost a twin bill 15-8 and 15-5, The freshmen fell 15-11 and 15-5.
Although the frosh were defeated, the coach praised their efforts.
"The team is going to be very strong," she said. "We look forward to working with them and seeing them improve."
Against Round Valley, a match played in Wilson Dome, the varsity dropped the first game 15-1, but rebounded for a better showing in a 15-11 second game loss.
The opening defeat, Schwind said, "was the result of bad passing, not moving and not being mentally prepared."
In the second game, she said, "We stepped up and came back."
In jayvee action, Payson lost back-to-back games by identical scores of 15-8. The freshmen survived by a 2-1 margin, winning the first (15-8) and third games (15-10).
The plebes dropped the second 15-5.
Following the matches, Schwind lauded varsity player Hanna Ludwig for her superior hitting.
Rachelle Jones drew praise as the outstanding jayvee player as did Tina Jackson among the freshmen.
Sandwiched in between the East losses to Snowflake and Round Valley was a 2-1 varsity win over homestanding Sedona.
Payson opened with a 15-5 victory, but dropped the second game 15-12. In the rubber match, Payson rolled to a 15-2 triumph.
The second game loss, Schwind said, could be attributed to serving errors.
The third game turnaround brought smiles to the coach's face.
"I was really proud of the way the girls came back after having a mental collapse," she said.
The coach praised Staci Scholl for turning in a strong all-around floor game.
In the jayvee wins, Terri Pete and Hillari Hardt drew plaudits.
Freshman Retosha Marshall led the freshmen to 16-14 and 15-10 triumphs over Sedona.