By Ryan Divish
It wasn't pretty. At times, it was downright ugly. But in the end for the Havre Blue Pony volleyball team, it was effective.
The Ponies outlasted the Chinook Sugarbeeters 25-20, 21-25, 20-25, 25-20, 15-10 in non-conference action at Blue Pony gym Saturday night.
"We did some things well," said Havre High head coach Lacy Anderson. "And we did some things badly. When we did them badly, everything was bad. It was ugly."
It was the home opener for Havre and with a large crowd of about 300 looking on, Havre definitely had some opening match jitters as did the 'Beeters.
"There was definitely some adrenaline flowing," said Chinook head coach Jay Eslick. "You could see it in hitting the balls long and oversetting. Lacy was right, it got a little ugly at times both were just scrapping."
After taking the first game, the combination of poor Pony serving and even poorer Pony passing helped Chinook fight back in the match.
The 'Beeters also used the solid frontcourt play of Brittany Buhmann and Shaylan Haugen to take the next two games. The duo combined for nine kills in the two games as Chinook took a two games to one lead in the match.
With the advent of rally scoring this season, a premium is placed on serving the ball in and quality passing. However, Havre would struggle throughout the match with both. Anderson and her staff count mistakes during each game in games two and three she counted a total of 21 mistakes.
"We have a lot of work to do on our discipline," Anderson said. "We really lack the discpline to do things correctly all the time. We need to pass better and serve better."
Staring a possible loss in the face, the Ponies were able to clean up some of the mistakes in the fourth game while the 'Beeters started making their own.
Chinook had key service errors late in game four and seemed to lose the rhythm it established earlier. After tying the game at three, Havre took the lead and never trailed. The 'Beeters cut the lead to 21-20 but a pair of serving errors and kills by Sara Suek and Kristi Owens sent the match to a fifth and deciding game.
"You just can't afford to miss serves or make little mistakes," Eslick said. "I thought we served well in the middle two games but it haunted us later in the match."
In the fifth game, Havre would never trail. The Ponies got kills from Suek, Owens, Jeanna McPherson and Alicia Overcast, who put down the final point to give Havre the match.
The Ponies were led by Suek with 13 kills while McPherson and Overcast added 11 apiece. Suek also had 16 digs in the match. McPherson added 11 digs and four blocks while Brittany Vandersloot also had 11 digs.
"Chinook's got a really tough team," Anderson said. "I think they'll give us a run for our money when we go to Chinook."
With the victory, Havre improved to 5-4 on the season. Anderson wasn't at a lack for things to work on this week in practice before traveling for a conference quadrangular at Lewistown, featuring the Golden Eagles along with Anaconda and Butte Central.
Eslick was pleased with his team's performance despite the loss. The competition alone was worth the trip.
"It's a great rivalry on both sides of the net," Eslick said. "Our girls respect Havre's program and respect what they've done over the years. It's a great opportunity to come here and play them. We'd play them every day if we could because we don't get to play a team like Havre every day."
Buhmann finished with 12 kills to lead Chinook. Holly Dennis dished out 35 assists while Jess Hollingsworth added 27 digs.
Chinook will host Malta, Thursday, in district action.