By Joseph T. O’Connor ExploreBigSky.com Editor

BUTTE – The Lone Peak High School girls’ volleyball team wrapped up their 2012 season in Butte, Mont. on Oct. 25, with a hard-fought match against the Twin Bridges Falcons.

A qualifier for the state’s divisional tournament, the match highlighted a season of growth for the lady Big Horns, Head Coach Sarah Phelps said. Though LPHS lost the match, the team stayed to watch the rest of the tournament.

“We hung with that team,” said Phelps, who has coached the varsity team in its first two seasons and in Big Sky for eight years. “It was great for our girls to see they could compete with some of these other teams.”

Phelps has big plans for the girls this summer, in preparation for what she expects to be a breakout season next year. “We have a couple summer camps planned, and open-gym time,” said Phelps, who is excited to have greater numbers next season – enough to field a junior varsity team.

“I’m thrilled. We have 24 girls in fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades, and will have enough to hold tryouts.”

LPHS went through a difficult season two years ago – their first as a team. But Phelps set some objectives at the beginning of this season.

“My goal for [the team] was to win some matches this year,” she said. “When we came out and beat West Yellowstone on senior night, the girls realized how good they can be.”

Phelps said the win was the highlight of this season.

“That point exceeded my expectations by eleven fold,” Phelps said. “Throughout the season, we were competitive. Our improvement was 1,000 percent.”

Michelle Burger, a junior, led the team in District 8C rankings. She placed in the top 40 in all five categories, including aces, kills, assists, digs and blocks.

Five other Lone Peak players landed in the top 40. Tehya Braun, Katie Reid, Janie Izzo, Kaela Schommer and Gabrielle Gasser joined Burger on the list.

Phelps remains confident about season three, next year. The fact that Lone Peak had at least two girls in each of the District 8C categories helps. “This puts other teams on the alert,” Phelps said. “We’re an up-and-coming program.”