By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Defeat at the District 12C tournament ended the Lone Peak High School varsity volleyball team’s season on Friday, Oct. 29.
Headed into the tournament the Big Horns had a 6-6 record and picked up one more win and two losses.
After playing West Yellowstone for their final regular-season game where the Wolverines picked one game from the match off them, Lone Peak’s head coach, Ellen Wolferman, said the Big Horns were fired up to play the Wolverines in the first round of the tournament.
“All our players played phenomenally well,” she said. “Everything came together for [the game against] West so it was good to start off with setting the tone that way.”
Lone Peak defeated the Wolverines in three games scoring 25-21, 25-15 and 25-12. The victory against the Wolverines matched the Big Horns against the White Sulphur Springs Hornets who were ranked second in the district going into the tournament.
Wolferman said she saw a lot of errors in the match against the Hornets and the Big Horns struggled to communicate on the court. While the girls fought hard after getting into the swing of things, they fell in three games to the Hornets 25-15, 25-19 and 25-11. The Hornets went on to take second place in the tournament, losing to the Manhattan Christian Eagles in the championship.
The loss sent the Big Horns to the loser bracket in the double-elimination tournament, where they squared off against the Twin Bridges Falcons, who they lost to in the regular season.
Wolferman said it was a “night and day difference” from the game against the Hornets the previous day.
“That was by far probably one of my most favorite games to be coaching this whole season,” she said of the game versus the Falcons.
Many of the players for the Big Horns and the Falcons are evenly matched Wolferman said, so the game was a nail-biter the whole time. Though the Big Horns competed closely in the high-stakes matchup, the Falcons took the match in three games winning 25-23, 25-16 and 25-21 to end the Big Horns’ season.
Despite the loss, Wolferman said she was proud of the team’s closing performance.
“I feel like everything that we had worked so hard on the entire season kind of came together for everyone,” Wolferman said.
She noted that the Big Horns logged some great blocks against the Falcons and praised sophomore left-side hitter Vera Grabow for her best game all season. After injuring her finger against the Hornets on Thursday, Grabow came out against the Falcons with ferocious hits and racked up points for the Big Horns.
Freshman Emerson Tatom also gave a standout performance against the Falcons with her deceptive underhand serve. Wolferman said that Tatom’s serve allowed the Big Horns to set up effective attacks and go on scoring streaks.
Junior libero Jessie Bough emerged as a strong leader during the tournament, logging some amazing digs and bringing a positive attitude to the court. Wolferman said Bough did a great job fulfilling her role as captain and picking up the slack on the court.
This was Wolferman’s first year coaching the Big Horns and she said it was a fun season full of adaptation as challenges arose.
“I feel like our girls really stepped up and embraced [the challenges] and leaned into adversity and took on a lot of challenges head on,” she said.
The Big Horns had a young team this year with only one senior, TJ Nordahl, on the roster. Wolferman said she looks forward to working with the returning players and seeing them grow and gain experience on the court.
Wolferman predicts that freshman right-side hitter Claire Hoadley will be unstoppable in three years and sophomore middle blocker Ella Meredith is already a completely different player from the beginning of the season.
Junior left-side hitter Maddie Cone was the Big Horns top performing hitter, finishing the season with 100 kills and a pass rating of 2.26 out of 3. Bough had 192 digs this season and a pass rating of 2.06.
Wolferman thanked Assistant Coach Bailey Dowd for her hard work throughout the season as well as Athletic Director John Hannahs for supporting her in her coaching duties.
Wolferman said she looks forward to using what she learned this year to improve the team next year. “It’s exciting seeing those younger players because if this is where they’re at now I just can’t wait to see what the future holds if we just keep working at the skills that we’ve worked on this whole season,” she said.