The two teams that met in the championship game of the 2001 Payson Invitational Volleyball Tournament, and months later in the Class 3A state championship, will return this weekend to the Rim country.
Fountain Hills and Ganado are among the field of 18 schools entered into the 2002 edition of the tournament today (Friday) and Saturday in Wilson Dome and the old high school gymnasium.
Like last season, both teams are favorites to reach the invitational gold medal round and the state championship showdown.
Last year, Ganado edged Fountain Hills for both the Payson and state titles
In the Payson Invitational format, today's play will feature three pools of six teams playing a round robin format.
At the conclusion of the day, Lady Longhorn coach Chris Schwind will seed the teams with the best three records into Saturday's championship double elimination tournament.
The bottom three teams from each pool will then play in a consolation double elimination tournament.
Games began at 9 a.m. today and will continue until about 8:30 p.m. tonight. Saturday, play resumes at 8 a.m. and will continue until the championship game begins at 7 p.m.
The Lady Longhorns are in pool three along with Palo Verde Christian, Mogollon, Joseph City, Miami and Snowflake.
Pool two consists of Show Low, Fountain Hills, Holbrook, Safford, Alchesay and Pima. Wickenburg, Blue Ridge, Ganado, Round Valley, San Manuel and Duncan are in pool one.
FH flexes muscle
The Lady Horns warmed up for the tournament Sept 5 in a regular season showdown against Fountain Hills.
Originally slated to be played in Fountain Hills, the game site was switched to Wilson Dome only days before it was played.
Dropping 15-6 and15-8 decisions to Fountain Hills, the Lady Longhorns learned quickly why the team is a state title favorite.
The loss didn't dampen the enthusiasm Schwind has for her team.
"We played excellent defense and started hitting hard and blocking well at the net," she said.
Terri Pete and Britney Owens were among the team members who drew praise from the coach.
"Terri had an excellent hitting-blocking game and Britney is really improving and getting use to the pace of the game," she said.
In junior varsity action, coach Krystal Garvin's charges romped past Fountain Hills 15-1 and 15-5.
"This is a real strong jayvee team," Schwind said. "We look forward to seeing them continue to improve."
The freshman team dropped back-to-back 15-10 and 15-7 games to Fountain Hills.
Although the team is looking for its first win, the coach said it did show considerable improvement in serving and passing.
"The girls are beginning to gel as a team and realize their responsibility on the court," Schwind said.