Lady Longhorn hopes for Payson High School's first state volleyball title came to a screeching halt in the first round of the Class 3A tournament.
In the single elimination fray, played Nov. 4 in Glendale Arena, Payson -- the East region's No. 3 seed -- dropped a 2-0 decision to South runner-up Sahuarita.
The Lady Horns were overrun in the first game 25-10 and lost the second 25-19.
Entering the match, Payson's strategy was to slow Sahuarita's 6-foot, 1-inch middle hitter Arlee Cavetti, who will play at Boise State next year.
"Our game plan was to challenge Sarah Donovan to block as many of Cameitti's hits as possible," coach Arnold Stonebrink said. "But we knew our success would be predicated on playing nearly flawless ball."
The best-laid plans of the Lady Horns, however, went awry.
"Our game plan wasn't worked to perfection and we didn't play nearly flawless ball," he said. "The result was defeat."
Also contributing to the state loss was a lethargic first game.
"I don't know why the girls came out so flat," Stonebrink said. "I don't know if it was the different environment or if it was being at state for the first time."
The tournament was played in the 17,000-plus Glendale Arena that is the home of the Phoenix Coyotes professional hockey team.
"I wasn't really fond of it (the arena)," Stonebrink said. "We played on plastic tiles instead of the hardwood floors we played on all season.
"Also the ice underneath us made it chilly. I don't know if it affected the players, but it sure made the coaches cold."
In the first game loss, Payson misfired on three out of its 11 serves and chalked up a paltry three kills.
"Sahuarita's diggers shined and the result was a shellacking," Stonebrink said.
In the second game, the Lady Horns fell behind 7-3 before Donovan hit six consecutive service winners to propel Payson out to a 10-7 lead.
After a side out and with Cameitti rotated to the back row, Payson had a golden opportunity to build upon its lead.
"But instead, we began to make hitting, serving and passing mistakes," Stonebrink said. "Coupled with effective hitting by Sahuarita's other outside hitter, we lost the lead."
In other first-round tournament action involving East region teams, Blue Ridge lost 2-1 to Florence, Show Low fell 2-0 to eventual state champion Chandler Seton Catholic and region champion Snowflake thumped Safford 2-0.
In the second round, Snowflake whipped Chinle 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals against Seton Catholic.
The Chandler parochial school disposed of the Lobos 2-0 before whipping Monument Valley 2-1 in a hotly contested state championship game.