Team looks to rebound in final home matches against West Yellowstone, Shields Valley
By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER
BIG SKY — On Friday afternoon, the Lone Peak High School Big Horns matched up against the Twin Bridges High School Falcons in a Class C volleyball game in Big Sky.
The Big Horns took control early and won the first set, but the Falcons swooped in to win the next three in a best-of-five match. After the first game, the Big Horns struggled with communication and serving, unable to keep momentum and losing each game by a margin of five to seven points. The Big Horns will look to return to the win column on Oct. 18, celebrating Senior Night against West Yellowstone.
“It was a hard-fought battle. I would have liked for us to play the way we did in the first game throughout the entire match,” said head coach Bailey Dowd after the match. “But I thought the girls played hard, and we have some things to work on going into the tournament. We just gotta communicate more on free balls and make sure we’re playing clean volleyball.”
Lone Peak receives an automatic berth in the five-team district tournament, but they will need to finish in the top three to advance further. Upcoming games will play an important role in determining their playoff seed.
In the first set, both teams got off to a hot start.
Big Horn senior Jessie Bough aced the Falcons twice in a row to take a 4-3 lead, and junior Ella Meredith got the opposing defense off balance with a spike to extend the Big Horns lead to 6-4. Meredith’s performance stood out on Friday, forcing the Falcons outside with her strong presence at middle blocker.
The Falcons fought back to tie the score at 11, and each team scored in 2 to 3-point bunches until Big Horn senior Maddie Cone ended a long rally with a signature spike to tie the score at 18.
Cone struck again to give the Big Horns a 19-18 lead and immediately followed her spike by staying calm under pressure while tying her shoe in front of the excited crowd.
The Big Horns surged ahead from a 20-20 tie when junior Dylan Klein softly directed a kill into open space, and senior Emily Graham fooled the Falcons up front by setting backwards over the net. When the Big Horns took a 24-22 lead, the Falcons called a time out. They returned and tied the score at 24, creating a win-by-two situation for both teams.
Big Horns freshman Lily Turner assisted junior Vera Grabow on a spike, blocked out of bounds by the Falcons, advantage Big Horns. Grabow’s serve was handled but not returned, and the Big Horns earned a narrow victory.
Turner and junior Emerson Tatom both joined the starting lineup on Friday, as coach Dowd tried to give a favorable matchup on the outsides. Throughout the match, Turner and Tatom were coached and encouraged by experienced teammates, especially seniors Bough, Cone and Graham.
Throughout the second set, the Big Horns struggled to communicate and played from roughly five points behind. With a 25-20 win, the Falcons tied the match at one game apiece.
The third set began with high intensity, as the Big Horns held onto a three-point lead. Momentum swerved when the Falcons trailed 16-13 and sparked a six-point run. After a Big Horns timeout, the Falcons won six of the final nine points, taking the second set 25-19.
The fourth and final set began with hope for the Big Horns, as the score was tied 5-5. But the Falcons continued to take control, winning six of seven points to take an 11-6 lead. The Big Horns continued to score but could not recover from that five-point deficit. The Falcons eventually won 25-18.
Coach Dowd said she looks forward to honoring the four seniors on Tuesday at Lone Peak High School. She also hopes the community will show up to the Big Horns’ final home match on Thursday, for their annual “Spike for the Cure” match against Shields Valley.
As is tradition, the Big Horns will wear pink jerseys and hold a 50/50 raffle with proceeds supporting breast cancer research.