The outcome of today's season-ending clash against the Show Low Cougars will not play a significant role in playoff future of the Lady Longhorn volleyball team.
Win or lose, the team will probably open postseason tournament play at 9 a.m. Friday at Lakeside Blue Ridge High School against Show Low.
The results of today's match to tip off at 6:30 p.m. in Show Low will only determine whether the Lady Horns enter the regional tournament as the fourth or fifth seed.
Either way, the opening round will feature a Horn-versus-Cougar showdown.
When the two teams meet Saturday for a second time this week, it will be for all the state marbles. The winning school remains in Lakeside knowing it owns a minimum fourth-place state seed and has the opportunity to improve on it with more regional tournament victories.
The loser of the opening round match goes home to call it a season.
Lady Horn coach Chris Schwind said she is encouraged by the team's spirited play as of late and is confident the squad can rise to the occasion to earn a state playoff seed.
"We should be able to beat Show Low," she said. "The whole team has stepped up."
The coach's confidence is fueled by recent wins over Alchesay and Higley as well as a strong outing against BR.
Paired against Alchesay Oct. 16 in Whiteriver, the Horns played their way to 15-9 and 15-10 victories.
The following day in a rescheduled contest against Higley, the Horns easily ran past the first-year school 15-8 and 15-11.
The clash was to be played Sept. 29, but was changed because Payson had four matches on the agenda for that homecoming week.
Only two days after the victory over the Falcons, the Horns returned to the Wilson Dome court to take on Blue Ridge. The first game, a 16-14 victory, turned into a showcase of the Horns' court prowess.
Unfortunately the Horns could not maintain the momentum of the opening win and dropped two straight to the Jackets 15-4 and 15-8.
The evening also marked the final home appearance of five PHS seniors Brittany Curtis, Hanna Ludwig, Brook McRae, Brandi Waugh and Jania Rodriguez.
On the younger level
In junior varsity action against Alchesay, the Horns copped twin wins by 15-8 and 15-7 counts. The freshmen won the first game 15-6, but lost the second 15-10. In the finale, the Payson plebes rallied for a 15-4 triumph.
Pitted against Higley, the Payson jayvees won 15-8 and 15-13. The freshmen rolled to 15-3 and 15-4 triumphs.
Battling archrival Blue Ridge, the freshmen opened with a 15-4 victory, but then fell 15-11 before rebounding for a 15-11 match win. After losing the first game 15-11, the junior varsity recovered to win 15-7 and 15-6.