An arena designed for professional hockey will be home to the 2005 high school state volleyball tournament.
The Phoenix Coyotes' Glendale Arena, which seats more than 17,000 fans, was selected last spring by the Arizona Interscholastic Association to be the site for the Class 1A to 5A boys and girls tournament games which began Nov. 2 and continue until the championship showdowns are played Nov. 5.
The 3A tournament, which the Lady Longhorns are participating in, tips off Nov. 4 with first round games. Second round clashes will also be played Nov. 4 and the semifinals and championship showdown are Nov. 5.
The Lady Horns, who are entering the tournament as the East region's No. 3 seed, open at 10 a.m. against South runner-up Sahuarita.
If coach Arnold Stonebrink's charges can slip past Sahuarita, they will play at 2:30 p.m. against the winner of a first-round game, pitting North champion Monument Valley against the West's No. 4, Chino Valley.
The Lady Horns could enter the tournament without the services of junior Jade Heglie, who was sidelined with an injured ankle throughout the East regional finals, Oct. 29 in Wilson dome.
Throughout the season, Heglie had drawn plaudits from Stonebrink as a standout player.
Following an early season win over Round Valley, in which Heglie was moved to outside hitter to replace an absent player, the coach said, "Jade played very well. She had two kills and no errors."
If Heglie doesn't return for state, Stonebrink has a veteran lineup of seven seniors and two juniors he can call upon for relief duty.
Keys to playing deep into the tournament could be the focus of the Lady Longhorns.
When the team members are on top of their game, they can play with the best, including East region champion Snowflake.
In a regular season showdown against the Lobos, the Lady Horns put on a show of their Jekyll-and-Hyde selves by playing poorly in the first game then rebounding in the second with a topnotch effort.
Following the first game, Stonebrink said, "We had five hitting errors, three service errors and spotty serve receiving.
"We played mediocre, which didn't cut it against a team the caliber of Snowflake."
In a second game turnaround, Payson played almost perfectly on the way to a six-point victory.
"We had no service errors, solid hitting, strong passing and terrific digs," Stonebrink said.
Following the game, the coach cited Ashley Anesin -- as he has done much of the season -- for her spirited play.
Anesin finished the match as the team leader in service winners with eight and in serve receiving with a score of 2.35 out of a perfect 3.
Senior middle hitter Sarah Donovan -- a key to victory at state -- led the team at the net, chalking up 13 kills and 10 blocks, three of which fell in for points.
If she turns in more efforts like that in the Glendale Arena, the Lady Horns could be in for a long state ride.
Another important cog in the Longhorn attack is setter Brooke Cannon whose solid all-around floor play has paced the Lady Horns this season. In the match against Snowflake, she was at her best, chalking up six kills and 22 assists.
"Her well-placed tips and spikes really help us," Stonebrink said.
Stonebrink is also counting on outside hitter Tori Wilbanks, a 5-foot 11-inch junior, to continue to dominate at the net, as she often did in the East region tournament.
For fans and parents traveling to Glendale, the arena is located at 9400 W. Maryland Ave., near the Westgate City Center.