By Bella Butler EBS STAFF
BIG SKY – After a win on the road versus the Lima Bears, the Lone Peak High School Big Horns varsity volleyball team on Sept. 25 lost to the Twin Bridges Falcons. With seven more regular season games remaining, the Big Horns’ record sits at 2-4.
Both teams struggled to settle into a rhythm right off the bat, but LPHS’ front row showed up for a handful of big plays early on, including a strong block from LPHS freshman right side hitter Claire Hoadley, a kill by sophomore left side hitter Vera Grabow and kills by senior left side hitter Maddie Cone.
LPHS middle blocker TJ Nordahl showed maturity as the team’s sole senior with a handful of well-placed tips that kept the team’s composure into the middle of the first game.
The Falcons answered the Big Horns big front row presence by finding the defensive holes on the Big Horns side of the court. The Falcons front row, though less powerful than the Big Horns, found an uncovered spot in the Big Horns back row throughout the night that junior libero Jessie Bough had a hard time reaching.
“The balls that were difficult for Jessie to get to were because they were either going through or around the block,” said LPHS head coach Ellen Wolferman. “Twin Bridges was a good team with that. They really knew how to move the sets and just put it where we weren’t.”
In response to the Falcons tactical offense, Cone and junior setter Emily Graham paired up to send heat across the net, besting the Falcons’ shorter block for several kills. When the Falcons’ cut off Cone’s cross-court shot, she tooled the block for a few more kills. The Falcons adjusted once more, but so did Cone, sending the ball right down the line.
Graham, a first-year varsity setter, displayed improving court awareness, finding the right hitters to throw off the Falcons’ pace.
At 23-23, a long volley built the tension up, defined by back-to-back digs by Bough, a smart dump by Grabow and finally a back-row kill by Cone.
In a tight ending, the Big Horns lost the first game 28-26.
The Big Horns came out with low energy in the second game but continued to fight back, reeling themselves in toward the Falcons’ lead but never getting ahead. After the Big Horns tied the game at 11-11, the Falcons pulled away, winning the second game 25-14.
Unable to adjust to cover all their defensive holes and bring themselves out of their mental slump, the Big Horns struggled to gain momentum in the third game, playing below their potential and playing more conservatively. They kept up with the Falcons until about midway through the game before the Falcons swept the whole match with a 25-18 third-game finish.
“I think the biggest thing right now that we need to work on is just leaning into that adversity,” Wolferman said. There are always inevitables in volleyball, she said, like point deficits momentum swings. The trick for the young Big Horn team, according to Wolferman, will be to come together as a team to move past that adversity.
The Big Horns play away at Gardner tomorrow, Sept. 28.