By Amanda Eggert EBS Senior Editor
TWIN BRIDGES – The Big Horns finished their regular season with a tough road loss in four sets to the Twin Bridges Falcons on Oct. 21. Lone Peak closed their regular season 8-2 in conference play and with an overall record of 11-5.
Falcon middle hitter Kailee Oliverson was a ferocious presence at the net, demonstrating her formidable firing power early on. The 6-foot-3-inch senior logged five-plus kills in the first set alone. Many of her hits sailed through the Big Horns’ blockers, leaving Lone Peak’s back row scrambling to dig them near the 10-foot line.
“There was basically no defending that,” said Lone Peak head coach Missy Botha. “Considering what a big player she [is], I think the back row did a fair job defending her.”
The Big Horns were down two players. Junior outside hitter Madison Wagner was out with a cold and Brooke Botha, also a junior outside hitter, was out hunting. (Oct. 21 was opening day of rifle season.)
The first set remained close until the second half. Despite a brief resurgence toward the end, with senior libero Bryn Iskendarian at the service line, the Falcons claimed the set 25-18.
In the second set, the Falcons and Big Horns played a more competitive net game. Junior middle hitter Solae Swenson and senior middle hitter Katie Hoffman traded blocks and kills with the Falcons. The second set ended 27-25, Falcons’ lead.
Despite well-timed and effective blocking by the Falcons, the Big Horns found their groove in the third set and led by as many as eight points at times. The Falcons’ Oliverson reclaimed her mojo in that set, but Twin Bridges couldn’t quite catch the Big Horns. Lone Peak senior defensive specialist Julia Barton closed the set 25-21 by sending an ace across the net, one of two she logged during the game.
The fourth set ended in the Falcons favor 16-14. Missed serves by the Big Horns in the final set hampered their forward momentum, and Lone Peak fans were fired up about the officiating. Their increasingly frustrated commentary grew in volume as the game progressed.
“At the end there, if the ref hadn’t intervened, we were right there with them and we could have taken them,” Botha said. “I have to commend my girls for their composure and their classiness during that game.
“If we see [Twin Bridges] further down the road in the post-season, with better officiating, I’m sure we’re going to be competitive with them,” Botha added.
Swenson closed the game with 10 kills and Hoffman notched five. Hoffman led the Big Horns in blocks with four, and Iskendarian led the Big Horns in both aces and digs with five of each.
The Big Horns are seeded No. 2 heading into the 11C District Tournament on Oct. 26 and 27. If the Big Horns finish in the top two, they’ll continue on to the Western C Divisional Tournament, Nov. 2-4 at Manhattan Christian High School.