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Volleyball: Big Horns beat Shields Valley, prepare for playoffs

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The Big Horns finished their regular season at home on Thursday. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

‘Dig Pink’ night for breast cancer awareness raised $2,325 for Bozeman Mammogram Project 

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER

BIG SKY—In pink style, Lone Peak High School won their final regular season match on Thursday night.  

Shields Valley High School wore a brighter shade of pink, but the Rebels could not keep up with the Big Horns’ energy, led by senior Maddie Cone and junior Vera Grabow. As the Big Horns earned their 3-1 win, fans contributed to a 50/50 raffle to raise money for the Bozeman Mammogram Project. Before the game, Athletic Director John Hannahs reminded the crowd that some things are more important than sports. “Dig Pink” night raised $825 and Big Sky’s Ace Hardware added a $1,500 match, bringing the total donation to $2,325.  

“It’s a really important night, to remember those we’ve lost to breast cancer and those who are still fighting or have survived it,” head coach Bailey Dowd said. “I think we all have someone that comes to mind, so it’s nice to honor them and do something for charity … and to be able to win on this night—our last home game for seniors.” 

The match began with a pair of spikes by Cone that got the crowd going as the Big Horns jumped to an 8-2 lead. Senior Emily Graham added an ace, and Grabow painted the back corner with an electrifying spike to give the Big Horns a 16-7 lead. With their backs against the wall, the Rebels brought the score to 24-17. In game one, that’s as close as they would come.  

The second set was closer, eventually tied at 15. That changed when the Big Horns won 10 of the next 12 points, with aces from Cone and senior Jessie Bough, and spikes from Cone and junior Ella Meredith. The Big Horns took the second set 25-17.  

Senior Maddie Cone elevates for a killer spike, late in the second set. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

“Maddie Cone had a phenomenal night. She’s really been playing well these last couple weeks moving into districts. Something like 22 kills with only four errors, which is just outstanding,” coach Dowd said after the match. 

Communication began breaking down for the Big Horns in game three. Kills didn’t land and the Rebels found open space for easy points, working their way to a 14-8 lead. The Big Horns started playing even with the Rebels, but the buffer was enough to carry Shields Valley to a 25-20 win.  

Junior Vera Grabow began to wake up during the third game. In the fourth, she led the Big Horns with vocal energy and athleticism, bringing energy back into the gym.   

“Sometimes we start off a little slow, and it’s really important against good teams to bring the energy,” Grabow said after the match. “So I knew that especially tonight, out of all our games, was the night to be loud.” 

Junior Vera Grabow served three aces in the final set. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

“Vera played awesome,” coach Dowd said. “It’s probably the most confident I’ve seen her out on the court. She had 11 kills, one error, and served really well with seven aces and 19 other tough serves. She’s a big part of our win tonight for sure.” 

The Rebels led game four, 9-8, until the Big Horns scored eight straight points including three aces by Grabow and two spikes by Cone. The Rebels began to look defeated, and they soon were. Lone Peak won game four, 25-13, and completed their 3-1 match victory over Shields Valley.  

“I am really proud of how far my team has come, from the beginning of this season and the beginning of my freshman year,” senior Emily Graham said after the match. “It’s going to be really sad to leave this team, but I’m glad we finished with a bang. I think we’re going to go far in our postseason.” 

On Tuesday, Lone Peak volleyball celebrated Senior Night with a win over West Yellowstone. Coach Dowd said she’s had the pleasure of coaching Cone, Graham, Bough, and Haley Houghteling for two or three years. Houghteling has been on the bench with a knee injury for the entire season but was cleared to serve a few times in these final two games. Dowd said her presence on the court made the nights even more special.   

With Thursday’s win over Shields Valley, Lone Peak clinched fourth place in conference which coach Dowd said gives them a good seed going into districts. They will most likely match up against Gardiner on Thursday, Oct. 27.   

“I think we’re gaining confidence and momentum in these last couple of weeks,” Dowd said. “Maddie [Cone] is starting to get into a rhythm, Vera [Grabow] is getting into a rhythm, Jess [Bough] holds the court so steady as our libero, captain, leader—I can’t say enough good things about Jess. I think those three can really lift the rest of the team to great places.” 

Junior varsity with a clutch win 

Junior varsity also earned an exciting win on Dig Pink night.

In the fifth and final set, the Big Horns went back and forth with the Rebels in win-by-two territory, reaching a rare “next point wins all” scenario as the score was tied 19-19. Freshman Avery Graham got the crowd ready for the varsity game, with a match-winning kill from her position at middle hitter.  

Graham (right) and the junior varsity Big Horns celebrate a clutch kill for the win. PHOTO BY JACK REANEY

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