Veteran Lady Longhorn volleyball coach Arnold Stonebrink this year will be working with an entirely new staff that includes some of Payson High’s finest former players.
Cydney Figueroa, Hannah Armenta and Tori Wilbanks — who all played under Stonebrink during his nine-year tenure — will join the staff as will Stonebrink’s wife, Penni.
Figueroa will take over as junior varsity coach and Armenta will assume freshman-coaching duties.
Penni Stonebrink and Wilbanks will hold down assistant coaching positions.
Arnold Stonebrink predicts Figueroa will be a “soft-spoken, composed coach” because she “is a very quiet leader who lets her actions speak for her.”
Figueroa wrapped up her four-year PHS career in 2008 by being named an Arizona Volleyball Coaches Association All-Star. She was also an All-Region selection on two occasions and was named team captain her senior year.
As a senior setter, she was the team’s quarterback pulling the trigger for the offense.
In addition to running the “O” and being an excellent passer, Figueroa finished with 182 digs, 834 kills and was the Lady Horns’ third best server.
In Payson’s 2008 state tournament opening-round win over Fountain Hills, Figueroa was at her best setting up teammates.
During one stretch, she dished out 11 consecutive assists.
Wilbanks, who graduated from PHS in 2007, immediately signed a letter of intent to play at South Mountain College.
In addition to starring for PHS, she was a member of Payson’s Club Rim and Valley-based Club Red.
As a member of the Lady Longhorn volleyball program, Wilbanks earned three varsity letters and was an All-East Region, first-team selection both her junior and senior seasons.
She also earned spots on All-Tournament teams in Payson and Chino Valley and was an All-Arizona honorable mention choice as a senior,
She was slowed early in her senior season by an ankle injury, but returned in time to lead the Lady Horns to a share of the East Region championship and a berth in the state tournament.
Stonebrink once lauded her all-around volleyball abilities, saying, “Not only was she an animal hitting, but she was also a dominant blocker and worked very hard to become a starting back row player and a solid passer.”
In addition to Wilbanks starring in volleyball, she was a standout basketball player her first three years at the school.
Stonebrink predicts as a coach, Wilbanks will be, “energetic and talkative.”
Armenta, Stonebrink says, “is very encouraging and positive; her disposition is between Cydney’s and Tori’s”
At PHS, Armenta lettered her junior and senior seasons playing outside hitter. As a senior she was named to the 3A East All-Region team.
Some of her most memorable moments occurred in a late season upset win over archrival Snowflake. At crunch time of the pivotal fourth game, Armenta served an ace to tie the score and another to win the game.
At the conclusion of the 2008 Payson Invitational, Armenta was named to the All-Tournament team.
“It was a well-deserved recognition,” Stonebrink said at the time.
“Her 44 digs led the team and her .185 hitting and 27 kills were both second on the team.“
In addition to starring in volleyball at PHS, Armenta was a standout on the Lady Horns softball team.