Chris Schwind is trying to ensure the disappointing win-loss record the Lady Longhorns posted in last weekend's Payson Invitational Volleyball Tournament doesn't damage the confidence of her players.
"My only hope is that this team does not give up on themselves," she said.
The coach has a good idea which obstacles are hindering the players from reaching their potential.
"Being such a young team, a lot of our game is lack of mental toughness and confidence," she said.
In Friday's pool play of the 18-team tournament, the Lady Horns finished with a 1-9 record. That showing dropped the team into Saturday's consolation tournament.
Seeded seventh in the eight-team bracket, the Lady Horns lost in the first round to Tucson Pusch Ridge.
The loss to Tucson sent the Lady Horns into the losers bracket where they were pitted against Duncan. After splitting a two-game set, a third game to seven points was called for as a tie-breaker.
The Lady Horns advanced to take on longtime East rival Show Low. Although Payson lost 16-14 and 15-8 decisions, the team played well, Schwind said.
"We were aggressively playing the net and getting a lot of digs in," she said.
Because the loss to Show Low was the team's second consolation defeat, the Lady Horns were eliminated from the tournament.
In Friday's pool play, the Lady Horns lost to Palo Verde Christian, Mogollon, Joseph City and Snowflake. Against Miami, they finished 1-1.
The first game of the day, against Mogollon, might have been one of the Lady Horns' better tournament efforts.
"Our girls came out really strong and almost, probably should have, won," Schwind said.
Against Pusch Ridge in a second-round pool game, the Lady Horns struggled.
"When we play a team that has a slower tempo of play, we become passive," she said. "We did not play well at all."
The lack of aggressiveness continued to hinder the team in losses to Joseph City and Snowflake.
"We came out slow and never picked up our pace to stay competitive," Schwind said.
Although the Lady Horns had few tournament wins to celebrate, Schwind found reasons for optimism.
"We have seen several glimpses of a very competitive team," she said. "I believe we have the capability to be a better team."
Following the fray, Schwind applauded the efforts of Shea Hatch, Terri Pete and Hillari Hardt.
Hatch, she said, "is really seeing the floor and is able to read the other team's defense."
Pete and Hardt drew praise for strong play at the net and for "hard work in becoming more aggressive and confident."
At the 2001 edition of the Payson Invitational and again at the season-ending state tournament, Ganado edged Fountain Hills for both championships.
This time around, it was Fountain Hills who got the nod over Ganado in the championship game.
Both teams, along with Snowflake, dominated the two days of play.
In Friday's action, Ganado finished 10-0 in the purple pool, Fountain Hills was 10-0 gold pool and Snowflake was unbeaten in the black pool.
In Saturday's double-elimination bracket, Snowflake received the first seed, Ganado was second and Fountain Hills third. Fountain Hills opened with a win over No. 6 Holbrook. The Falcons then reached the gold-medal game with triumphs over Ganado and Snowflake.
Ganado's loss to Fountain Hills dropped the Hornets into the losers bracket where the team rebounded to beat Mogollon, Holbrook and Snowflake. In the championship, Fountain Hills dominated Ganado two straight games.
In the consolation tournament finale, late-charging Show Low whipped Pima for the title.
The Cougars opened Saturday's play with a win over San Manuel, but then fell into the loser's bracket after a second-round loss to Pima.
Relegated to the losers bracket, Show Low edged out Payson, Miami and Pusch Ridge to earn a second match with Pima.
The revenge match turned into a Show Low two-game victory. Payson returns to tournament play Sept. 19 when the team travels to Lakeside to compete in the three-day 3A East region tournament.
"Hopefully we will come back with some wins," Schwind said.