A trio of Lady Longhorn standouts have been chosen for the 3A East All-Region team by a voting of coaches.
Selected were Desi Burris, Michelle Daniels and Rylee Halenar.
Also, Reghan Flake and Trinity England received honorable mention accolades.
Coach Arnold Stonebrink is calling the selection of the players “well-earned” since all played pivotal roles in the Lady Horn’s success.
Burris, a three-year varsity letter winner, was one of the most well-rounded players to ever don a Payson High School uniform.
During each year of her varsity career she finished first or second on the team in serving efficiency.
Last season, she led the team in aces with 83 and was second in assists with 298.
Playing opposite hitter, she was also a determined blocker.
“Two games defined her season,” coach Arnold Stonebrink said.
“One was when she served like crazy against Winslow in the Coconino Tournament. The score was Desi Burris 15, Winslow 0.”
The other defining game was in a state opening round loss to Sedona.
“She reserved her best all-around game for the big stage,” Stonebrink said. “She led the team in serving efficiency, aces and passing efficiency.”
The coach suspects other coaches selected Daniels to the team because of her blocking ability, although she also was a good hitter.
His reasoning makes sense — she ran away with the team lead in blocks/block assists with 121.
“She more than tripled the amount of the next blocker on the team,” Stonebrink said. “She had the ability to take over a match with her blocking and did so many times this year.”
Much of her success at the net was due to her almost perfect timing and body type.
“With her long arms and legs, she was able to reach well over the net and form a formidable wall that slanted down,” Stonebrink said.
Coaches might have tapped Halenar to the all-region team because of her tenacity, hustle and athletic ability.
Those talents also earned her the respect of her teammates and a position as team captain.
“That marked only the second time in my six years of coaching that a junior was named captain,” Stonebrink said. “Her teammates really looked up to her and she had an ability to get along with and reach out to anybody and any group.”
The only other Lady Horn to be voted captain as a junior was Brooke Cannon.
Among Halenar’s best performances were the efforts she turned in during regional and state tournaments when she led the team in passing and serving.
For the season, she paced the Lady Horns in serving, placing 94 percent of her serves inbounds.
Stonebrink believes much of her serving success was due to a change in styles.
“She used to be a rather inconsistent top-spin server,” he said. “In the summer, she changed it to a floating serve and refined it, turning it into a very tough serve to pass because it has a low arc and moves fast.”
Stonebrink also lauded Halenar as one of the most acrobatic players he has coached, saying she performed some antics that had him asking his assistant Jadyn Walden, “Holy, cow, did you see that?”
England led the team in hitting efficiency with a .159 mark, which was an improvement over last season.
“Trinity’s hitting form is solid, if she continues at the same rate she can break the magical .200 season next year,” Stonebrink said. “She has become more and more intelligent in her hitting and the results are telling.”
Much of her success hitting, as well as blocking, is due to her leaping ability.
She also has an ability to be around the ball at crucial times as evidenced by her team-leading 257 digs.
“She was able to dig up hundreds of spikes,” Stonebrink said.
Flake finished second on the team in passing efficiency and digs and always took a hard-nosed game onto the floor.
“She was never intimidated by tough serves,” Stonebrink said. “And she had another good year passing.”
The coach also praises her “as a great kid with a great attitude and great standards.”
With the all-region choices in, players and coaches now await the selection of the all-state and all-star teams. Only seniors are eligible to be chosen as coaches association all-stars.