Jenna Robertson's spirited net play ignited the Lady Longhorn volleyball express to a 3-1 road win over Estrella Foothills.
"She had the greatest stat of the night -- 20 hits, 12 kills and zero errors," coach Arnold Stonebrink said. "Her .600 hitting efficiency was phenomenal; Estrella Foothills couldn't handle her hard hits, and when the set wasn't quite there, she was able to repeatedly find the open slot in the Wolves' defense."
With Robertson paving the way, the Longhorns won the first game 25-15 and lost the second 25-21 before rebounding to win the final two 25-22 and 25-19.
The match was played Thursday in the Valley.
"After a first game blowout, the girls were behind the whole way in the second game," Stonebrink said. "The number one reason was we missed five serves.
"Other than that game, our serves were solid --he girls got 86 percent of their serves in."
In crucial game three, Payson jumped out to a 9-4 lead, only to see the Wolves rally to tie the score.
But the never-say-die Lady Horns rallied to regain the lead behind four consecutive service winners by Laughlin Potvin.
"We forged a lead we never relinquished," Stonebrink said.
In the fourth and final game, Mollee Lee's early service run gave the Lady Horns an 8-2 lead.
"We were then able to close out the match without much drama," Stonebrink said.
Following the win, which lifted Payson's record to 2-0, the coach cited Hannah Armenta, Segan Cline, Christina Deaton and Cydney Figueroa for their contributions.
"Hannah had 20 kills, .240 hitting and repeatedly thwarted the Wolves' hitting attack in racking up 12 digs," he said. "Segan had four aces, compared to only one error in 19 attempts.
"Her serves repeatedly produced free balls back from Estrella, resulting in our being able to run our offense."
Deaton excelled at the net with a team-leading 14 blocks, eight of which were stuffs.
Setter Cydney Figueroa handed out 25 assists.
The coach also lauded Estrella Foothills for exceptional serving.
"They had some tough floater-serving players and at times, we struggled with it," he said. "But, the girls fought through it."
Entering the game, Stonebrink wondered how his young team would react from playing back-to-back early season matches. The evening prior in Wilson Dome, Payson made its 2007 debut with a 3-1 win over Sedona.
"I wondered if they would be a bit tired and flat, but they allayed by concerns by taking care of Estrella," Stonebrink said.
In the match against Sedona, Payson won the first two games, 25-23 and 27-25, before losing the third 25-21. In the fourth clash, the Lady Horns rolled 25-14.
"The first two games were every bit as tight as the scores indicated," Stonebrink said.
Late in the second game, Sedona had two opportunities to score game points with 24-23 and 25-24 leads.
"We were able to stave off the (game points) and score the winning point came on a crucial ace by Cydney Figueroa," Stonebrink said.
Sedona won the third game by going on what Stonebrink called "modest serving runs, good digging and breakdowns in Payson's defense."
In the crucial fourth game, the Lady Horns righted the listing defensive ship with outstanding digging and saving from Chelsea D'Arcangelo and Cline.
Also shoring up the Lady Horn cause in the game was Lee's serving and Robertson's net play.
Behind the foursome, Payson built an early 10-2 lead and then cruised to the easy 11-point win.
Stonebrink called the season opener, "a good test for the Longhorns (because) Sedona seemed to show nice improvement from last year and were able to slow down the Longhorn attack a bit."
The coach also praised the Lady Horns composure, "Payson showed a lot of maturity by fighting through the tough Sedona serves and staying within themselves on hitting."
The players also refused to be intimidated by their foes. "For the most part, (we) didn't force the issue by trying to spike harder, which usually results in more hitting errors," Stonebrink said.
Game statistics reveal Lee led the team in service winners (17), aces (six), digs (10) and serve receiving efficiency (2.56 out of 3.00). She also was second on the team in kills with eight.
Robertson's 11 kills led the team. Armenta tallied seven kills and Deaton added five.
In addition to Robertson's kills, she chalked up 16 blocks, three of which were stuffs. Deaton had five stuffs.
Figueroa racked up 32 assists to lead the Lady Horns.
The team returns to action this evening (Tuesday) in Florence.
"Florence is perennially one of the rough 3A programs in the state," Stonebrink said.
"I think it will give us a better idea where we stand with the state's elite teams."
Game times in Florence are 4 (frosh), 5 (jayvee) and 6 p.m. (varsity).