A clean sweep of defending 3A East region champion Round Valley might be just the boost the Lady Longhorns need as the volleyball team approaches the second half of the season.
"It was a good evening for our program," coach Arnold Stonebrink said, following the Sept. 27 wins in Wilson Dome.
The blitzkrieg began with the freshmen winning back-to-back games 25-17 and 25-23. The junior varsity continued with 25-14 and 25-23 victories.
The evening wrapped up with varsity games won by Payson 25-19 and 25-23.
In the first game of the match, the Lady Horns were forced to play with what Stonebrink called "a makeshift lineup because some players missed practice."
Tori Wilbanks, usually an outside hitter, was moved to middle hitter and back-row stalwart Jade Heglie took over as outside hitter.
"Both of them played very well," Stonebrink said. "In the first game alone, Tori had five kills and no errors and Jade had two kills and no errors."
In the second game, the Lady Horns fell behind 23-21 and a third rubber showdown appeared to be a certainty until Payson rallied for the victory.
"We had a bit of let down in the middle of the game when we weren't patient with our hitting," Stonebrink said. "We overcame that to get back into the game."
Wilbanks led the team in kills with seven, Sierra Sommars had four, and Sarah Donovan led in blocks for points, with two.
Heglie doled out 10 service winners and had three aces.
In a new serving statistic Stonebrink is compiling, Donovan and Heglie graded out to be the Lady Horns' most effective servers.
In other 3A East region action, the Lady Horns dropped a 2-0 decision Sept. 22 to the visiting Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. The Jackets won the first game 25-9 and the second 25-16.
In the first game, the Lady Horns trailed 13-9 until BR used eight consecutive service winners to pull away for the win.
"They had two very good servers who hit hard floaters that dropped," Stonebrink said. "We had trouble returning them."
Donovan led a comeback attempt in the second game that came up just short.
"She was very aggressive at the net, with seven kills and three blocks for points," Stonebrink said. "She did a terrific job."
The coach also lauded 5-foot, 9-inch junior Brooke Cannon for her serving and play at the net.
"She had six service winners and four kills," Stonebrink said.
Safford transfer Brittany Moore, who plays the back row libero position, turned in a great job of serve receiving, Stonebrink said.
The Lady Horns return to East region action Oct. 4 in Holbrook.
The match will be an opportunity of sorts for the Lady Horns to redeem themselves for a very frustrating 2-1 loss to the Roadrunners Sept. 8 in Wilson Dome.
"I was very disappointed to lose, especially since it was a region match," Stonebrink said.
In the East region opener, the Lady Horns stumbled 26-24 in the first clash, won the second 25-21 but dropped the match-deciding third game 25-17.
"This was a match that got away from us," Stonebrink said. "We were behind most of the first game, but managed to come back and take the overtime win; the second game we squandered a 22-17 lead.
In the rubber game, the Lady Horns led at one point 16-14, but seconds later the wheels came off the Payson wagon.
What rendered the loss doubly tough was that the Lady Longhorns dominated Holbrook in a summer tournament.
"I don't know if the girls thought they would easily handle Holbrook, but the necessary focus wasn't there," Stonebrink said.