With three games remaining in the season, the Lady Longhorn volleyball team is working to hang onto, or improve its 10th-place power point ranking.
Payson’s 9-4 record has earned the team 75.7353 power points, which is slightly better than 11th-ranked Blue Ridge’s 73.5294 points.
The two East region rivals meet at 6:30 p.m. this evening (Oct. 21) in Lakeside with power point rankings and East standings at stake. Blue Ridge is 8-5 overall and 5-1 in the East. Payson is 5-2 in the East.
As the season has unfolded, the race for the East crown has been dominated by the Snowflake Lobos who are 11-1 overall and 7-0 in the region.
The real battle in the East is for second and third between Blue Ridge and Payson.
Round Valley, Alchesay and Show Low are relegated to the bottom half of the East standings.
The Lady Horns took a big step toward staying in the chase for power points and an East runner-up finish on Oct. 16 by defeating Round Valley 3-1.
In Eagar, Payson dropped the first game 25-17 but roared back to win 25-19, 25-18 and 25-12.
In the first game loss, the Lady Horns tied the Elks at 14-14 and seemed to be rolling along until RV went on an 11-3 run to win the game.
“Errors did us in — five service errors, four hitting errors and four serve receiving errors,” coach Arnold Stonebrink said.
In the game, Stonebrink was forced to play Michelle Daniels in the back row due to the unavailability of two others players.
Reghan Flake was set out because she missed a match and her usual replacement, sophomore Rylee Halenar, was being kept out by Stonebrink so as to not surpass her AIA limit of 30 games.
Halenar also plays on the junior varsity team.
“She (Daniels) didn’t play badly, but still we missed the steady influence of Reghan’s (Flake) passing,” the coach said.
After warming the bench the first game, Flake returned for the second to help lead PHS to the win.
This time out, outside hitter Rose Hardt played in the back row where she was buoyed by the play of libero Kristin Remonda who had five service winners, including two aces. Hardt chalked up four kills.
“Rose had a superb hitting game,” Stonebrink said.
After two games of patchworking the lineup, the Lady Horns returned for the third clash with the starting group the team has used most of the season.
Nonetheless, PHS fell behind 6-1 in the early minutes.
After a timeout in which Stonebrink told the players that all the Elk points were on Payson errors, the team returned to the floor with a vengeance, outscoring RV 24-12.
“Steady passing by Kristin and Reghan righted the ship in the game,” Stonebrink said.
In the fourth and final clash, setter Desi Burris paced the Lady Horns with eight service winners, six on aces.
“Desi was a one-man wrecking crew,” Stonebrink said.
The defense also contributed with eight perfect serve receives, three each by Flake and Remonda and two by Jenna Robertson.
For the match, Burris had 10 aces, the most in a match during Stonebrink’s five-year tenure as head coach.
She also finished with 18 service winners.
Remonda served well with four aces and 10 service winners. The coach lauded Flake for her serve receiving and Remonda and Robertson for their passing.
Remonda had 17 digs and Robertson finished with 13.
In underclass action, the jayvees whipped RV 2-0 and the freshmen won 2-1.
Both teams are now 10-3 overall.