Meeting the mental challenges of high school sports is often more important than physical talent.
That might have been the situation Oct. 2 in the homestanding Lady Longhorns’ 3-0 loss to Blue Ridge.
“We did have a problem with attitudes and how to properly associate and communicate with teammates when things are going roughly,” coach Arnold Stonebrink said. “That was an issue we addressed in practice the next morning, I hope the girls will learn from it.”
The coach is confident the players have received his message loud and clear, “The girls have a lot of talent, if the attitudes follow, we should be alright.”
Being at the top of their game mentally and physically will be a PHS priority this week because the team plays crucial East region games today, Oct. 7 in Wilson Dome against Alchesay, and Oct. 9 in Snowflake.
“We need our ‘A’ game to even think about having a chance to win that one (Snowflake),” Stonebrink said. “Tuesday’s game is one we expect to win.”
The loss to Blue Ridge, by scores of 26-24, 25-19 and 25-19, dropped the Lady Horns’ overall record to 6-3 and 2-1 in the region.
During the defeat, the team struggled to find both continuity and scoring.
“All night long it seemed we were behind and trying to fight a difficult battle to tie it up,” Stonebrink said. “It is difficult because Blue Ridge has such good serve receivers and a fine hitting team — it’s hard to squeeze runs of more than three points past them.”
In the first game, Payson fell behind early and trailed most of the clash before scoring two straight points to dead-knot the score at 24-24.
But the Yellow Jackets responded by racking up back-to-back points to salvage the win.
“The next game was more of the same — the Yellowjackets jumped to a lead and held it the rest of the way,” Stonebrink said.
Although the third game loss was by the same six-point margin as was the second defeat, the Lady Horns were their own worst enemies in the opening moments.
“The game was awful at first, we couldn’t do anything right and Blue Ridge smoked their way to a 19-7 lead,” Stonebrink said. “But a 12-2 run by us brought us to within 21-19.”
Six service winners by senior middle hitter Jenna Robertson highlighted the PHS run.
“But the momentum which brought us into it, suddenly deserted us,” Stonebrink said.
Blue Ridge scored four straight service winners to take the match.
Following the ambush in the dome, the coach lauded the serve receiving of Kristin Remonda and Reghan Flake as “tremendous” but bemoaned the team’s hitting.
“We had an especially hard time against middle hitter Jamie Lynn London,” he said. “We geared our defense towards stopping her, but our coverage was spotty at times and she took full advantage.”
Rose Hardt, the coach said, was one of the few Lady Horns who hit successfully. Her nine kills led the team.
Robertson finished with seven stuffs and Desi Burris led the team in aces with four.