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LPHS volleyball teams notch decisive wins

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Senior middle blocker TJ Nordahl spikes the ball through a Panthers' block during an Oct. 1 game. PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

By Gabrielle Gasser EBS STAFF

BIG SKY – Lone Peak High School volleyball had a banner performance at the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center Friday night as both the JV and varsity teams swept the Sheridan Panthers.

The JV squad beat the Panthers in three games scoring 25-17, 25-16 and 15-10. During the JV match, sophomore Dylan Klein led in aces and kills, while freshman Sadie Nordahl added impressive serving.

The three varsity games held high-energy and big momentum swings as both the Big Horns and Panthers built leads based on serving streaks.

Out of the gate, Lone Peak struggled to pull ahead of Sheridan and both teams traded point-for-point over the first nine volleys. Junior Maddie Cone contributed 12 points throughout the evening with solid hitting and well-placed serves. Sophomore Ella Meredith assisted with four blocks at the net and six kills to contribute to the Big Horns’ lead, impressing Assistant Coach Bailey Dowd.

“This was probably her best game of the season,” Dowd said. “She also played really well on Tuesday [she] had seven kills and two blocks that day so big week for Ella.”

After intense volleys that Lone Peak won with a backrow attack, junior Jessie Bough built the Big Horns a significant lead with consistent serves causing the Panthers to call a timeout at 20-12. After the break, junior Haley Houghteling added an ace before Cone capped the match with a decisive ace of her own giving the Big Horns a 25-15 victory.

The second game featured a similar struggle for momentum as the Big Horns and Panthers traded points. Houghteling used a tricky short serve to gain points for Lone Peak while Cone continued serving aces. Down 13-5, the Panthers called a timeout to ice the server and halt the Big Horns’ momentum.

After Sheridan went on a brief serving streak, Bough got a dig to turn the tide followed by an ace to bring Lone Peak’s lead to 19-12.

Energy in the Bough-Dolan Athletic Center reached a fever pitch when Cone added a kill and closed the game with devastating serves to get the Big Horns a 25-15 win.

The BigHorns celebrate a great play by sophomore Ella Meredith (11). PHOTO BY GABRIELLE GASSER

Lone Peak Head Coach Ellen Wolferman praised Cone’s performance as the junior wrapped the match with 12 kills and two blocks. “She had a lot of control today,” Wolferman said.

In the third and final game, the Panthers led early and the Big Horns struggled to mount an attack. Lone Peak serving errors gave Sheridan a chance to build an 11-7 lead.

When the teams traded intense volleys ending in Panther points, Wolferman called a timeout.

After the break, sophomore Vera Grabow returned to the court with strong serves giving Lone Peak the lead, 18-16, and a huge kill by Cone led to a Sheridan timeout.

Grabow continued serving after the timeout ultimately logging a 12-point serving streak that ended with the Big Horns sitting at 24 points needing just one more for the win.

The Panthers fought back late in the third match but ultimately the Big Horns would bag the victory with a final score of 25-21.

Senior TJ Nordahl remained a dominant presence at the net throughout the night attacking, blocking and tipping to keep the Panthers on their toes. Dowd said that the Big Horns worked on controlling hitting errors all week in practice. In their games against Sheridan Lone Peak kept their errors under six total between all four hitters across all three games.

“We were really focused on goals this game,” Wolferman said. “We haven’t done that as much as in the previous games … and I felt like it really made a difference because they all collectively were playing together and working toward those common goals.”

That teamwork and support was apparent as the girls continuously lifted each other up on the court.

“It was one of the more fun games we’ve been able to coach,” Dowd said. “Just getting to watch them succeed and cheer each other on.”

The Big Horn’s record right now is 5-4, including nonconference games. Today, the girls head to Manhattan Christian for a tournament that started at 9 a.m.

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