The Lady Longhorns' recent venture outside the ranks of the 3A East region turned into an exercise in futility.
Sept. 15 in Wilson dome against Sedona, the Lady Horns dropped back-to-back 25-15 and 25-20 decisions.
Two days later in Wilson Dome against Fountain Hills, Payson won the first game 25-18 but dropped the final two 25-23 and 25-14.
Fountain Hills and Sedona are 3A West region teams.
In the loss to Sedona, coach Arnold Stonebrink praised 5-foot, 10-inch middle hitter Ashley Anesin for her hitting.
"She was outstanding with four attempts, three kills and no errors," he said.
Senior Sarah Donovan led the team in blocks for points with three and tied teammate Tori Wilbanks for most kills, with six each.
Stonebrink also praised Jadyn Walden for her proficient serving and Mollee Lee for efficiency in serve receiving.
In underclass matches, the PHS junior varsity lost 25-17 and 27-25. The freshmen won the first game 25-19 but then dropped back-to-back 25-20 and 16-14 decisions.
Against Fountain Hills, Anesin again led the team in hitting, with four kills and no errors in nine attempts. Walden had six kills in 24 attempts and one error.
Donovan paced the team in blocks for points for the second successive match, with three.
Following the two matches, Stonebrink cited lack of communication among the players to be a cause for concern.
"Especially between the front and back rows," he said. "Against Fountain Hills, the state's No. 1-ranked team early in the year, we needed top-level play and we didn't get it."
After winning the first game against FH, the Lady Horns built a 16-12 lead in the second game and appeared on their way to a 2-0 match victory.
But, FH came roaring back in the game to score four straight points and tie up the score 16-16.
"After that, it was nip and tuck until they won it by two (points)," Stonebrink said.
The PHS junior varsity won 25-20 and 25-16. The freshmen swept the visitors 25-23 and 28-26.
The Lady Horns returned in all-important 3A East action Sept. 22 in Wilson Dome against the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. (Results not available at press time).
East region play continues Sept. 27 in Wilson Dome against the Round Valley Lady Elks.
Game times are 4:30 (freshmen), 5:30 (junior varsity) and 6:30 p.m. (varsity).