Challenging any Snowflake sports team is a tough undertaking, but playing the Lobos on their home court without the services of two starters is a confrontation almost impossible to win.
That daunting task is exactly what Lady Longhorn coach Arnold Stonebrink faced Sept. 13 in the Snowflake High School gymnasium.
The Lady Horns were forced to play the first game of the match against the rough-and-tumble Lobos without the services of two regulars that were benched for disciplinary reason.
"We had our backs against the wall, it was an uphill battle," Stonebrink said.
As expected, the Lady Lobos used their manpower advantage to roll to a 25-17 victory over Payson.
In the second game, with the two starters back on the court, the Lady Horns battled the Lobos to a 17-17 tie midway through the matchup.
Snowflake pushed its lead to 24-19 before Payson pulled to within 24-20 on a side out. Jade Heglie then rallied Payson with a series of five service winners.
Leading 25-24, Payson gave up a point before the Lady Horns rallied from the dead knot to win 29-27.
"It was a great victory, the girls really hung in there," Stonebrink said.
In the crucial rubber game, Payson fell 25-16 to lose the 3A East showdown 2-1.
In the loss, Stonebrink cited the defensive play of Ashley Anesin who chalked up a team-high four blocks.
"She was an animal at the net," he said.
Tori Wilbanks led the team in kills with five and Sarah Donovan served three aces.
Heglie was lauded for her serve receiving that was almost perfect.
"She had just one error," Stonebrink said.
The coach also lauded Sierra Sommars and Brooke Cannon for the pair's all-around, solid play.
Looking for improvement
In surveying the schedule, the coach predicts his charges have the talent to play with the Lobos and the remainder of the East region teams if they maintain their focus and totally dedicate themselves to the game.
"It's an athletes' mentality, maybe that's the area we are lacking in," he said. "We've discussed it as a team and individually."
Also, for success down the road, the individual players must come together as a team and fulfill all the off-the-court requirements for participation, the coach said.
"I'd like for us to play and entire match with our ‘A' lineup," he said. "We haven't been able to do that."
In junior varsity action, the Lady Horns lost to Snowflake 25-19 and 25-22. The freshmen fell to 3-1 on the year with a 25-12 and 25-14 loss to the Lobos.
Next up for the Lady Horns is a Sept. 20 clash in Whiteriver against Alchesay.