Best Team In A Decade

Tonight's match could send Lady Horns to regionals

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At the conclusion of tonight's regular season ending game against Show Low, the Lady Longhorns could be celebrating their first regional volleyball championship since 1994.

For the Lady Horns to win the title outright, they'll need to whip the visiting Cougars and then hope Blue Ridge loses this week either to Snowflake or Holbrook.

Payson is currently clinging to the East region lead with a 9-2 record. Blue Ridge is sitting in the runner-up slot at 8-2, but in the final week of regular season play must face both the Lobos and Roadrunners. Both those teams are tied for third with three East losses each.

"We probably have the advantage, schedule-wise," Stonebrink said.

If Blue Ridge should rally to tie Payson for the regular season championship, the first tiebreaker used to determine a top seed would be the results of head-to-head meetings.

Since the Lady Horns and Yellow Jackets split their two matches, a second tiebreaker would be needed.

Stonebrink said he was hoping the tiebreaker would be each team's winning percentage, but athletic director Dave Bradley confirmed it would be a coin flip.

A flip could turn into sad news for Stonebrink and his charges.

The last time the Longhorns were involved in a coin flip, the football team fell from a tie for first place in the East region to third.

The coin flip took place during a three-way conference call on Oct. 25, 2005, originating from the office of Holbrook High School athletic director, Paul DeMuth.

The flip for state tournament seeding was needed because Blue Ridge, Round Valley and Payson wrapped up the regular season tied for the East championship.

Round Valley won the coin toss and received the first seed.

On the next flip, between Blue Ridge and Payson, Bradley made a losing "heads" call and the Yellow Jackets went to state as the East's No. 2 team.

Just as some feared might happen, Payson fell to third and was eliminated from the state tournament by a first-round loss to Safford.

"My luck was horrible," Bradley said of the coin toss.

He also vowed that if he were ever involved in another coin flip, he wouldn't call "heads."

Whatever the results of the regular season turn out to be, they will be used to seed the teams into the regional tournament to be held Nov. 4 at Blue Ridge High School in Lakeside.

If last year's format is again used, the fray would open with the No. 7 seed playing No. 6. No. 4 would take on No. 5 and the winner of No. 6 vs. 7 would play No. 3 in the second round. The East champion would open the tournament against the winner of No. 4 vs. 5.

On to state

The state tournament is slated to begin Nov. 10 at Peoria High School. If the Lady Horns take the East's first seed to state, they would open at 3 p.m. in Gym A against the North No. 4 finisher. If PHS falls to second, it opens at 1 p.m. in Gym B against North No. 3. The tournament continues Nov. 11 before culminating at 5 p.m. that same day in Peoria's main gym.

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