Lady Longhorns Have Big Shoes To Fill

Mollee Lee expected to fill leadership void, move to outside hitting position

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Lady Longhorn volleyball coach Arnold Stonebrink leaves little doubt who the leader of the 2007 team will be.

"Mollee Lee will be the heart and soul of the team," he said.

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Cydney Figueroa (1) and Hannah Armenta (8) set themselves for action as a teammate spikes the ball over the net against Sedona. In the season opener played Wednesday in Wilson Dome, Payson won the match, 3-1. The Lady Horns won the first two games 25-23 and 28-26, then lost the third 25-21. In the fourth game, Payson survived 25-21.

"Besides terrific leadership skills, the senior will also show great versatility on the court."

Lee is no stranger to varsity competition, having played last year when the team stars were Brooke Cannon, Tori Wilbanks and Jade Heglie.

"Last year, she (Lee) was one of the top servers and passers on the team," Stonebrink said.

"This year, she will step into the outside hitting position vacated by Wilbanks and I expect great production from her there."

At the onset of the season and throughout the summer program, one of Stonebrink's goals was to find replacements for last year's super trio, who led the team into the state tournament.

Stonebrink said Lee appears to be a capable replacement for Wilbanks, junior Cydney Figueroa could take over for Cannon and Segan Cline is primed to assume Heglie's play-making responsibilities.

"Figueroa appears poised and ready," he said. "Besides doing well in limited duty last year as a varsity setter, she has been very consistent in practice in setting and developing a good rapport with her hitters."

If Cline is Heglie's replacement, she'll play the libero position.

"No one was more consistent in summer tournaments and camps this year than Segan," Stonebrink said. "She will look to maintain the momentum and high standards set by Heglie."

The coach admits filling Cannon's, Wilbanks' and Heglie's shoes is a tough job, but the replacements "are looking solid and were especially sharp in a scrimmage this week against our jayvees."

The Lady Horn offense and defense also returns several veteran starters from last season, including Hannah Armenta, Jenna Robertson, Laci Sommars and Chris Deaton.

Armenta will hold down the outside hitting position she manned in 2006.

"Hannah finished last year strong and consistent," Stonebrink said. "This year I expect her to hit the floor running."

Robertson, a junior middle hitter, is a well-rounded athlete who also excels in basketball and track and field.

"She worked hard the past year whenever she wasn't involved in (other sports)," Stonebrink said. "Don't be surprised to see her dominate at the net, both with solid and smart hitting and with suffocating blocking."

Sommars, a senior right-side hitter who has started the past two seasons, could be the glue that helps hold the team together.

"She will be valuable as a hitter in taking away the opposition's attention on Jenna, Hannah and Mollee," Stonebrink said.

Deaton returns to the team as a junior middle hitter after missing the 2006 postseason with a hand injury incurred just before the playoffs began.

Also on the varsity will be Chelsea D'Arcangelo, who last year contributed as the team's serving specialist.

The Lady Horns tipped off the season Aug. 22 in Wilson Dome against Sedona.

On PHS schedules, the game is listed as being played Sept. 4. However, that date had to be changed last week.

Next up for the Lady Horns is an away match in Florence, Aug. 28. Times are 4 p.m. (frosh), 5 p.m. (jayvee) and 6 p.m. (varsity).

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