Gardiner tops Lone Peak in battle of unbeatens

By Thomas E. Watson
Enterprise Staff Writer


Playing in a rare Wednesday match, the Gardiner Bruin volleyball team improved its perfect conference record to 3-0 with a straight-sets win over the visiting Lone Peak Big Horns, which also came into Wednesday’s match with a perfect conference record. 

Despite winning in straight sets, the Bruins had to battle out every set, winning 25-23, 25-22 and 25-23, as Lone Peak never backed down.

Gardiner’s attack accounted for only 26 kills in the match, while Lone Peak finished with 37 kills despite not winning a set. Kelsey McDonald led the Bruins with 10 kills. McDonald also had two aces, which tied for the team lead with Abby Dean and Chloe Chase. In all, the Bruins had eight aces to Lone Peak’s three.

“I was proud of how the girls played,” said head coach Carmen Harbach. “They were kind of tight because it was a big conference match. We knew Lone Peak was going to be a good team, so I think we came in a little tight. I think Lone Peak came in a little tight, too. I think both teams had more unforced errors than normal. I was proud of how our girls responded to that. They were able to ride it out and stay confident, knowing that we just had to get through the block we were going through.”

Other than serving well, Gardiner was benefited from a number of unforced errors by the Big Horns, which allowed the Bruins to win despite being outkilled in the match.

“It was their unforced errors, and our aces,” Harbach said.

Kyndra Long, who has been leading the Bruins’ block all season, had her best play at the net this year. Long finished with four blocks in the match.

“Kyndra had a nice game,” said Harbach. “She’s coming on more and more every game. She’s making fewer errors and also contributing to the offense quite a bit. I also thought the leadership of our seniors shone through last night. They took charge, and I was proud of them for that. I thought Sage Cowley ran the offense well. We started sluggish, slow and tight. As they went, they got a little looser, trusted each other more and played together as a team.”

Following Wednesday’s win, the Bruins take to the road for two matches against higher-classification schools. Gardiner plays in Livingston against Park on Friday, then will play in Belgrade against the Panthers on Saturday.