By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
Coming into the second weekend of the 2003 high school volleyball season, Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch had several goals in mind. And despite a tiring day Saturday at the Central A Volleyball Extravaganza in Belgrade and a long bus trip home Saturday night, Huebsch still had plenty of reason to smile after his team accomplished all of those goals.
The Ponies opened the weekend with a Central A conference win over Belgrade Friday night and then capped off the weekend by finishing in third place in the double-elimination extravaganza tournament.
"I couldn't be any more pleased with how the weekend went for us," Huebsch said. "The girls knew that we needed to win Friday night and they did. Then we got everything we wanted out of the tournament on Saturday."
"We played a lot of matches and we played well and the results speak for themselves," Huebsch added.
The Ponies began their big weekend with an important early season conference match with Belgrade on Friday night. Havre entered the contest a perfect 2-0 in conference play and emerged still perfect after a 25-16, 18-25, 25-22, 25-19 win over the Panthers.
"I was really concerned about Belgrade going into that match," Huebsch said. "They had some tall blockers and we didn't know a lot about them. But the girls played really well. We had a little letdown where we were ahead 18-12 in the second game and we let it get away."
"But other than that the whole team stepped up and played solid volleyball and we got a really important conference win."
Leading the way for the Ponies was junior Alicia Overcast with a solid 11 kills. Havre also got 21 assists from Alexa Lipp, and as a team, the Ponies dropped 18 aces on the Panthers. Kelsey Evans led all Ponies with five aces of her own.
On Saturday, Havre entered pool play in the Central A Extravaganza having played all three of its opponents already in the young season. The Ponies got wins over Anaconda and Belgrade but fell to Butte Central in between. The 2-1 pool record made the Ponies the No. 2 seed going into the afternoon's double-elimination tournament.
In the tournament, Havre opened things up with a fairly easy win over the Browning Indians. Havre defeated Browning by scores of 25-11 and 25-19. The Ponies then fell to the Lewistown Eagles by scores of 25-15 and 25-14. Despite the loss, Huebsch saw some good things from his team against a Lewistown team that the Ponies have not had much success against over the past few seasons.
"We started the match off really well and we ended each game playing really well," Huebsch said. "We just had a really tough stretch in the middle of each game and we let them (Lewistown) get on a roll."
"If we could have played the middle portion of those games like we started and finished, things might have been different," Huebsch added. "But the fact that we played with them shows me that when this team figures out how to close a game out, we can have some success against them."
The Ponies got a solid outings from Kristi Owens with four kills and Lipp with six assists.
After the loss to Lewistown, Havre bounced back with a 25-13, 25-21 win over Livingston and then knocked off Belgrade, 25-17, 25-18, to finish third for the tournament.
"We got a lot out of this weekend," Huebsch said. "We got to see and play almost everyone in our division except Dillon. And the fact that the girls played really well gives us an idea that we can do some good things down the road."
"We are a really inexperienced team and some girls like Ashley Hagen, Samantha Seidel and Keelie Solomon really stepped up and played well this weekend at critical times," Huebsch added. "I would say that Brittany Vandersloot played the best volleyball of her career for us. She was almost flawless all weekend long."
One other important factor that may have come from the Ponies successful weekend in Belgrade may have been what other teams are now thinking about Havre.
"I think a lot of teams may have thought that we were not going to be very good this season," Huebsch said. "After this weekend, I think we may have made a statement to some of the other teams in our division that we are going to be there at the end of the season."
The Havre High junior varsity and freshmen teams also had a good weekend at the Extravaganza. The Havre JV team finished in third place and the freshmen team finished second.
There will be no rest for the Ponies as they travel to Great Falls on Friday morning for the prestigious Electric City Invitational Volleyball Tournament. Play will begin in Great Falls at 9 a.m.
Havre def. Belgrade 25-16, 18-25, 25-22, 25-19
Havre - Kills 30 (Alicia Overcast 11), Blocks 3 (Kristin Evanson, Kristi Owens), Assists 21 (Alexa Lipp 21), Digs 44 (Brittany Vandersloot 12), Aces 18 (Kelsey Evans 5).
Havre def. Browning 25-11, 25-19
Havre - Kills 14 (Alicia Overcast 5), Assists 13 (Alexa Lipp 12), Digs 27 (Brittany Vandersloot 11), Aces 15 (Kari Bolken 6).
Lewistown def. Havre 25-15, 25-14
Havre - Kills 10 (Kristi Owens 4), Assists 6 (Alexa Lipp 6), Digs 22 (Samantha Seidel 7), Aces (4 with 1 each).
Havre def. Livingston 25-13, 25-21
Havre - Kills 17 (Kristin Evanson 6), Blocks 1 (Kelsey Smith), Assists 14 (Alexa Lipp 13), Digs 29 (Samantha Seidel 6), Aces 10 (Evanson 4).
Havre def. Belgrade 25-17, 25-18
Havre - Kills 20 (Kristi Owens 9), Blocks 2 (Kristin Evanson 1), Assists 17 (Alexa Lipp 15), Digs 19 (Brittany Vandersloot 6), Aces 10 (Kelsey Evans 4).