Rekindling old memories and renewing friendships made the 2013 Lady Longhorn alumni volleyball tournament an event that will be long remembered.
But oh yes, there was also heated volleyball played as alumni showed their commitment to proving they were the best in the history of the program and the PHS varsity battled, convinced they were every bit as good as their heralded predecessors.
The 2013 tournament, held Aug. 11 in Wilson Dome, drew 28 alumni and 11 current PHS volleyball players.
“We had a great turnout,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink.
Possibly somewhat surprising about the evening is that the skills of those alumni who turned out hadn’t diminished.
“All of the teams were quite good and I knew winning (for the current PHS varsity) would be hard,” said coach Arnold Stonebrink. “Possibly more difficult than winning our (off-season, summer) tournament a couple of weeks ago.”
Neon, a team comprised of players from the classes of 2012 and ’13, eventually battled back through the losers bracket to win the tournament by beating the current varsity 23-21 in overtime and 21-15.
“(Neon) was an all-star team of sorts,” said Stonebrink. “It had last season’s college players Katelyn Curtis and Rachel Creighton, plus twins Megan and Kaitlyn Wessel.”
The Wessels started on the 2012 Lady Longhorn volleyball team and were stalwarts in softball as well.
In the alumni shoot-out, Stonebrink stressed, “The twins led a nearly impenetrable defense of passing and digging.”
Also on Neon, Emma Randall, Megan Burris and Shayna Neal drew the coach’s praise for their play on both the front and back rows.
In Neon’s two wins over the varsity, the championship team’s players “were just too good, too consistent and too smart,” said Stonebrink.
Other teams participating included Kool Kidz, Spiked Punch and 911.
“The Kool Kidz was the oldest group collectively,” said Stonebrink. “On the team were former standouts Haylee Huff, Hilari Hardt, Britney Owens, Brandi Waugh, Jadyn Walden, Reanna Martinez and Cierra Rose.”
The team finished on top in tournament pool play racking up a 4-0 record.
In bracket play, Kool Kidz beat Spiked Punch, but then lost to the varsity.
Team 911 was led by players from the class of 2009 including Nikki DeWees, Laughlin Potvin, Cydney Figueroa, Jenna Robertson, Rose Hardt, Kristin Remonda and Kelsey Waugh.
Alumni from the PHS class of 2008 made up Spiked Punch, which went winless (0-4) in pool play, but then upset 911 in bracket action. On Spiked Punch were Mollee Lee, Laci Sommars, Chelsea D’Arcangelo, Hannah Armenta, Tori Wilbanks, Courtney Ferkol and Trinity England.
The Payson varsity included Jade Holland, Shealea Garza, Selen Shill, Mckenzie Creighton, Emmee Ashby, Harley Turney, Kaylee Byers, Taylor Randall, Cori Barnett, Rachel Knauer and Kelsee Stonebrink.
The varsity finished 3-1 in pool play and took the No. 3 seed into bracket play.
With the tournament in the rearview mirror, Stonebrink began steering his prospective players into tryouts, which were held earlier this week.
Results will be announced soon.
The coach says the always dreaded “player cuts” will be necessary on the freshmen team and he is not looking forward to them, “It will feel like having to cut off a finger or toe.
“The class is loaded with great players and great kids.”
The coach laments that he expects there will be players cut who in any other year would have made the team, “It’s going to be tough.”