Survive test from Shields Valley, sweep Harrison/Willow Creek as JV’s split
By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
An undefeated record signifies a strong season for any team but can also serve as an unnecessary distraction as the season progresses and the win column continues to grow.
The Lone Peak High School varsity volleyball team, however, isn’t letting it enter their minds. The Lady Big Horns extended their unbeaten streak to seven matches this season beating Shields Valley on the road on Sept. 18 and sweeping Harrison/Willow Creek at home the following evening.
“We haven’t even talked about it,” said LPHS head coach Missy Botha when asked how the team is approaching their unblemished record. “It’s like it’s not even an issue.”
Shields Valley tested Lone Peak’s mettle early in their match on Friday evening. After LPHS squeaked out a first set victory 25-21, the Rebels grabbed sets two and three, 26-24 and 27-25 respectively, leaving them only one set away from handing the Lady Big Horns their first defeat of the season.
“We feel like we could have played better,” Botha said. “We started off smoking hot [but] let them squeak back into that first game because of unforced errors.”
Botha made adjustments in the fourth set in an attempt to mitigate areas Shields Valley had been attacking on the court. She credited freshman Vera Grabow and the superb play of senior Ivy Hicks as instrumental aspects to the team’s comeback victory.
“[Hicks] keeps us in so many points just because she is all over the court and knows how to move the blockers around by moving the set around. I have to give her a lot of credit for helping us pull that game out.”
Trailing 10-7 in the fifth and final set LPHS called a timeout to regroup. Out of the break, the Rebels committed service error giving the Lady Big Horns serving rights. Sophomore Jessie Bough and Hicks served out the remainder of the set, only permitting a final Shields Valley point the remainder of the way and completing the comeback, 15-11.
Sophomore Maddie Cone returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the team’s second match of the year. She made an instant impact, leading the team in kills and blocks versus the Rebels. Hicks had 26 of the team’s 27 assists, while senior libero Chloe Hammond paced the Lady Big Horns with 13 digs. Senior Reilly Germain had five aces to round out LPHS’s individual scoring leaders.
The next night, Sept. 19, LPHS hosted the Harrison/Willow Creak Wildcats. In a tribute match honoring Skye Swenson, the Lady Big Horns dominated and the team even dedicated the game ball to Swenson.
“Skye made such an impact on, not only her sister as a player or our team, like as an inspiration to our players, but to them as people,” Botha said. “They learned a lot from Skye. Just the compassion that this team shows, they owe a lot of that to having Skye as [a] classmate.”
Lone Peak won in straight sets, 25-19, 25-10, and 25-19 to secure their seventh victory of the year.
Cone again led the Lady Big Horns in kills with 12. Hicks led the team in assists for the second consecutive evening, this time with 24. She shared the team high in aces with Germain—the duo had four apiece. Senior Ruth Blodgett had a strong showing as well, pacing LPHS with six digs.
The Lady Big Horns will travel to Harrison/Willow Creek on Sept. 26 for a rematch of their Sept. 19 contest, and are looking ahead to a strong playoff run when the district tournament begins on Oct. 29.
“The whole being undefeated thing, it really means nothing if you can’t deliver in the postseason,” Botha said.
J.V. squad splits weekend matchups
The LPHS junior varsity Lady Big Horns dropped their match versus Shields Valley in four sets on Sept. 18, but quickly rebounded with a sweep of Harrison/Willow Creek at home the following evening.
LPHS lost a closely contested opening set versus Shields Valley 28-26. They responded by winning the second set 25-23 before succumbing 15-7 and 15-9 in the third and fourth sets, respectively.
The Lady Big Horns improved their record to 4-2 on Sept. 19 when they quickly handled Harrison/Willow Creek at the Bough-Dolan Athletic Complex in straight sets, 25-19, 25-15 and 15-6.
“These girls have worked very hard on learning how to play volleyball together and now they are,” said LPHS junior varsity head coach Kara Blodgett. “Passing, setting and hitting is playing volleyball and I know the parents will tell you, when they do all three over and over again it sure is fun to watch.”