With the Payson High School volleyball team set to play six games today, Sept. 2, the Lady Horns will need all the depth they can muster to keep fresh, rested players on the court.
After all, legendary coach Vince Lombardi once said, “Fatigue makes cowards of us all” and it has proven to be true in any sport, whether it’s football or volleyball.
Common knowledge dictates it’s not often a prep team is called upon to play that many games in a single day, but when Lady Longhorns coach Arnold Stonebrink and his staff decided last summer to increase the Payson Invitational Tournament field from 18 to 21 teams, a six-game, single-day schedule was necessary.
The PHS schedule today:
• 9 a.m. vs. Mogollon in Wilson Dome, court 2
• 10:15 a.m. vs. Joseph City in Wilson Dome, 2
• 11:30 a.m. vs. Holbrook in Wilson Dome, 2
• 1:10 p.m. vs. Page at Rim Country Middle School
• 2:50 p.m. vs. Blue Ridge in Wilson Dome, 1
• 3:40 p.m. vs. Wickenburg in Wilson Dome, 1
Today, the 21 teams will compete in three pools of seven teams each.
Payson is aligned in the Black pool, which also houses Blue Ridge, one of the tournament favorites. Also favored for victories are Florence and Tuba City, both in other pools.
The teams entered represent a variety of school sizes from former Class 1A Ash Fork to former Class 5A “big school” Cesar Chavez. Which means the tournament matches should be competitive, but there could also be some blowouts.
At the conclusion of pool play today, about 5:45 p.m., the results will be used to seed teams into cross-pool play.
For example, the No. 1 finishers from all three pools will play one another, as will the No. 2 finishers and all the way down to the No. 7 finishers taking on one another.
Action resumes tomorrow, in two, double elimination tournaments. The top 11 teams from pool and cross-pool play will be seeded into the championship bracket and the remaining 10 will receive berths in the consolation bracket.
Coach Arnold Stonebrink says he understands the field is stacked with some quality teams, but the Lady Horns’ goal is to reach the championship bracket and then play deep into the tournament.
Last season, the Lady Horns turned in one of their best invitational efforts ever, finishing as runners-up to Blue Ridge.
This year, with Rachel Creighton and Katelyn Curtis leading the way, the team has a shot at equaling or bettering that performance.
Spectators are welcome to attend the weekend tournament free of charge.
There will be concessions and souvenir T-shirt sales.