With key 4A Grand Canyon region matches just on the horizon, Lady Longhorn volleyball coach Chris Schwind is working to build confidence in her players.
"I need to get it through my girls' heads that we can compete as long as we show up to play," Schwind said.
The team has shown they can be as good as any in the 4A conference with their 3-1 victory over 7th ranked Flagstaff.
Following the Sept. 18 match, Schwind praised the team and its new-found determination.
"The girls played excellent. They played to their potential, mentally and physically," she said. "I'm not sure what caused the change in attitude, but I hope it continues."
In the match, the Lady Longhorns got off to a jump start with a 25-22 victory. In the second game, Payson fell 25-21. The Lady Horns came roaring back to win the final two contests, 25-16 and 25-21.
Much of the credit for the upset victory was doled out to Staci Scholl.
"She had an excellent night," Schwind said. "She played well at the net, service line and the back row."
A key to Lady Longhorn success down the road could be more standout play from the senior outside hitter.
"She proved herself a dominant player. I hope she continues to believe in her potential," Schwind said.
Only two days before the win over Flagstaff, which was probably the Lady Longhorn's best performance of the season, the team was lackluster in a 3-0 loss to the Mingus Marauders.
"We have played Mingus in two tournaments (in the past) and beat them both times," Schwind said. "The girls came out real flat and unprepared mentally to play."
While Payson struggled, the Marauders were at the top of their game.
"Mingus came ready and fired up to play and our girls did not ever rise up to play competitively," Schwind said.
The Lady Horns sub-par showing resulted in three consecutive losses, 25-21, 25-17 and 25-20. Schwind attributed the disappointing loss to concentration rather than lack of ability.
"This team has the physical potential, but has to work hard to maintain mental consistence," she said.
In other action
In junior varsity action against Mingus, Payson lost back-to-back games 25-20 and 25-17. The PHS freshmen fell 25-13 and 25-20.
Against Flagstaff, the Lady Horns jayvees fell 25-20 and 25-17.
"The Flagstaff team was a very skilled young team" Schwind said. "Most of their players jump served and hit very well."
The PHS freshmen lost the first game to Flagstaff 25-20, but won the second two, 25-22 and 15-10, to take the match.
Freshmen coach Trevor Creighton cited his first-year players for their ability to bounce back into contention after losing the opening game.
"We played very scrappy and refused to let balls drop," he said.
A key to the win, he said, was the girls' excellent serve receiving.
All three PHS teams were in action last evening (Thursday) in Buckeye (results not available at press time). The Lady Horns return to Grand Canyon Region play Sept. 30 at Flagstaff Coconino. The team then has GC games against Page (Oct. 4 in Payson), Mingus (Oct. 9 at Mingus) and Flagstaff (Oct. 14 in Flagstaff).