BIG HORN — Early-season tournaments are a good opportunity for teams to get all of their kinks worked out, and both 2A Sheridan County teams got the chance to do just that over the weekend.
Both Big Horn and Tongue River high schools gained quality experience during the second day of the Big Horn Volleyball Invite Saturday. Both teams left with a handful of quality wins and hard-fought losses.
In a lineup that’s typically anchored by their senior leadership, Big Horn surprisingly found themselves with only one senior on the court Saturday.
Five of the Big Horn student-athletes were not present for the games on Saturday due to having to take the ACT test. Even though they had to put together a makeshift lineup filled with second-string personnel, the Lady Rams earned a couple of wins.
The first match for them, however, was a struggle.
After unexpectedly losing three matches on Friday night, Big Horn found themselves as the bottom eighth seed of the Gold bracket of the tournament, meaning they had to wake up to an 8 a.m. match against the juggernaut Wright Lady Panthers.
Wright, a team that has put up an impressive 14-1 record so far this season, had no problem handling the Lady Rams, who fell in two sets (17-25, 10-25).
But head coach Lee Zimmer’s team bounced back in commanding form. Despite the selection of tall blockers on Pine Bluffs’ side of the net, Big Horn simply hit it where they weren’t. The Lady Rams went on a huge rally to put away the Lady Hornets 25-7 in the first set, then squeaked out a 25-23 win in the second set.
The Lady Rams’ final match of the tournament contained a handful of quality sets against the Shoshoni Lady Warriors. Scratching and clawing their way to earn every point, the Big Horn Lady Rams eventually walked away with a sweep, beating the Lady Warriors 25-18 and 25-20.
“A couple of younger players got an opportunity to step in on Saturday,” Zimmer said about her team’s performance. “The girls pulled together and had a successful day.”
The Lady Rams are now 6-3 overall on the year.
The Tongue River Lady Eagles carried their momentum from Friday’s wins into Saturday, stringing together a couple of solid matches.
Playing in the consolation bracket, the Lady Eagles fared well against the Thermopolis Lady Bobcats. Tongue River grabbed a tight 25-21 win in the first set, but couldn’t keep the magic going in the second set, falling 25-16. In a down-to-the-wire matchup in the third set, Tongue River won 15-7.
But in a matchup against Southeast, the Lady Eagles simply ran into a better team.
Despite competitive play from all corners of the court, the Lady Eagles couldn’t put enough points on the board. Tongue River was swept by Southeast 25-18 and 25-23 in two nail-biting sets.
County rivals Tongue River and Big Horn will meet for the first time this season on Thursday night when Big Horn will play host in both teams’ conference openers.