By Amanda Eggert EBS Associate Editor
BIG SKY – West Yellowstone was outmatched in nearly every aspect when they played Lone Peak on Oct. 6. The Big Horns won the first two sets decisively, 25-6 and 25-7, but the Wolverines closed the scoring gap during the third set to 25-21.
The Big Horns gained momentum early on in the first set with strong serves and consistent three-hit returns. “We had 24 team aces,” said head coach Sarah Phelps. “That’s huge.”
They also netted five team blocks, showing a marked increase from their recent blocking performance. Sophomore Solae Swenson led the team in blocks with two and kills with seven. In total, the team scored 22 kills.
Kuka Holder, the team setter, led the team in assists with 18. “[Holder] is having a phenomenal season,” Phelps said. “She’s setting great, she’s blocking fantastically—all parts of it, she’s doing great.”
The 5-foot-8-inch junior’s height came in handy a couple times during the game when she turned sly and skillful tips into points.
The Wolverines briefly took control of the third set, leading 4-0 out of the gate, but by the time the players paused for a time out, the Big Horns were once again leading, 8-5. Lone Peak never relinquished the lead.
Phelps said Lone Peak made errors in the third set that let West Yellowstone creep back into contention, but added that she was proud of the girls for buckling down and finishing strong. Junior Julia Barton served up one ace after another in the latter half of the third set, finishing with a game-high 10 aces.
The win brought Lone Peak’s record to 5-2 in district play, and 9-2 overall.
On Oct. 13, Lone Peak faced Manhattan Christian (after EBS went to press) and Oct. 14 will take on Gardiner—two of the Big Horns’ toughest opponents—on Big Sky turf.
Phelps said Gardiner, Manhattan Christian, White Sulphur Springs and Lone Peak will be in heated contention coming into the district tournament Oct. 27-28.
“All four teams are very equally matched,” Phelps said. “It’s [going to come down to] what team that shows up that really wants it more.”