A 3-0 win over Florence has the Lady Longhorns (2-1) fired up for the Payson Invitational which tips off today, Sept. 5, in Wilson Dome and old PHS gymnasium. The tournament continues tomorrow morning before wrapping up with championship games in the afternoon.
In the win over the Gophers, Sept. 2 in the dome, Payson rolled in the first game 25-8. With the twin victory in tow, the Lady Horns took the final two games 25-22 and 25-20.
The evening turned out to be a Payson landslide with the jayvees (2-1) and freshmen (3-0) both winning by 2-0 counts.
In the varsity's victory, coach Arnold Stonebrink called upon a cleverly designed scheme, mostly because he knew the Gophers thrived on a hard-spiking front line led by two outside hitters (Jessica Queen and Jasmine Goodman) and a middle hitter (Sheila Anderson) who were top-notch players.
"My strategy for combating them was moving our middle blockers over to shut them down," Stonebrink said. "I was willing to risk having someone else hurt us from the opposite side."
The plan worked well when the Lady Horns racked up seven stuffs. Jenna Robertson had two solo blocks and three block assists and Laughlin Potvin recorded one solo block and two block assists.
But wait, there was more to the coach's game plan than moving the middle blockers.
"My primary strategy was to serve tough and pass well in order to keep the ball out of their big hitters' hands," Stonebrink said.
"The girls did both nearly to perfection," Stonebrink said. "They nailed 20 aces, which was a whopping 27 percent of their serves."
Also, the Lady Horns did a commendable job of serve receiving.
Stonebrink called it the "the best any of my teams have had for a match in my six seasons of coaching here."
The stellar execution of volleyball's basic skills bodes well for the future of the program.
"I've found that when we serve and pass well, everything else takes care of itself," Stonebrink said.
Match statistics reveal Robertson led the team in serving with five aces in 13 attempts and one error.
Desi Burris paced the squad in service winners with 14, and had five aces. Cydney Figueroa and Reghan Flake finished with four aces each.
Stonebrink lauded Potvin for her serve receiving, saying she had just one in 13 attempts that wasn't perfect. Kristin Remonda and Flake also drew praise for their serve receiving as well.
In kills, Trinity England finished the night with a team-high eight. Robertson tallied six and Potvin had five with no errors.
For the Payson Invitational's opening round, the Lady Longhorns are aligned in the tournament's black pool with Flagstaff, Wickenburg, Sedona, Chinle and Joseph City.
There are also six teams in the purple pool and six in the gold.
Pool play tips off at 9 a.m. Sept. 5 and wraps up that same day at 4 p.m.
After a coaches' meeting, the teams meet that evening, from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in cross-pool play. In it, the results of the earlier games will be used to seed the teams against one another.
For example, the No. 1 finisher in the purple pool will play the champion of the black pool, the No. 6 team in the gold pool plays the last-place finisher in the black pool and so on.
The following day, all the teams meet in a double elimination championship tournament.
In pool play, Payson plays at 9 a.m. (vs. Joseph City), 11 a.m. (vs. Chinle), noon (vs. Sedona), 1 p.m. (vs. Flagstaff) and 3 p.m. (vs. Flagstaff).
"I arranged the pools to where our last three games should be in front of student fans," coach Arnold Stonebrink said. He was referring to the Sedona and Flagstaff games, which will be played during school lunch hours, and the Wickenburg clash is set for a student body assembly.
All tournament games will be played on two courts in Wilson Dome and one in old PHS gymnasium.