By Brandon Walker EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – Masks donned the faces of spectators, coaches and athletes on the sidelines but on the court the Lone Peak High School Lady Big Horns varsity volleyball team was as focused as ever. On Aug. 29, as they entered a season that will constantly be overshadowed by COVID-19 and the possibility of a season shutdown, LPHS displayed great poise, sweeping the Absarokee Huskies in straight sets.
“It was odd seeing all their parents in masks and everybody socially distanced and what not, but the girls were ready for it,” said Lady Big Horns head coach Missy Botha. “They knew they had to generate their own energy, themselves, so anytime you get the first point over or the first match over with it’s a relief.”
The Lady Big Horns scored the match’s first point and six of the next eight, jumping out to a 7-2 lead and forcing a Husky timeout. A 13-3 LPHS advantage led to another Absarokee timeout, but Lone Peak continued to dominate, seizing their largest lead of the game late in the set: 23-6.
To that point LPHS hadn’t surrendered consecutive points in the set, but Absarokee scored back to back points, making the score 23-8. The Lady Big Horns quickly fended off the Huskies minor rally, winning the set 25-8, capped off by an exciting volley that led to senior Ivy Hicks setting up a powerful kill by senior Hannah Dreisbach.
The assist was one of Hick’s team high 21 on the evening. She accounted for all but two of the Lady Big Horns assists versus the Huskies.
“As far as spreading out the offense, that’s all Ivy Hicks,” Botha said. “She is able to … read an opponent’s defense and keep their blockers moving.
The second set began with more of the same with LPHS taking an early 7-2 lead. Their lead grew to nine points—15-6—midway through the set, but Absarokee stormed back and found themselves trailing by only four late. 22-18 was as close as the Huskies would get though, a service error by Absarokee ended the set and provided Lone Peak with a 2-0 set lead in the match.
Lone Peak received great contributions from their seniors and showcased their depth with a great dispersal of scoring. Sophomore Maddie Cone led the team with seven of the team’s 35 kills collectively.
“It was a fantastic debut for Maddie as a starting middle hitter. I just told her to get out there and hit away and you know she’s a very natural player and she’s got great court sense so it was great to see her start off so strong,” Botha said.
An ace by Lady Big Horn senior Reilly Germain started the third set and LPHS once again grabbed an early lead, 9-2. They held their largest lead of the set at 20-7 and after exchanging points, another Absarokee service error ended the set, resulting in a 25-14 LPHS victory.
Germain’s ace was one of LPHS’s 10 for the match. Seniors Chloe Hammond and Ruth Blodgett led the team with three each. Hammond also had a strong showing defensively, digging 15 balls for Lone Peak.
“They were absolutely stoked to get out there and show everybody what they can do because they are already so in sync that the rest of the season is going to be awesome,” Botha said.
LPHS (1-0) will look to build on their strong opening match performance when they travel to White Sulphur Springs on Sept. 4. Botha said the team will focus on footwork ahead of their next match.