By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
When you have one of the premiere programs in Montana Class A volleyball, chances are you're not going to get a lot of rest. That is precisely how things are shaping up for the Havre Blue Ponies as they prepare to travel to Great Falls on Friday morning for the prestigious Electric City Volleyball Invitational.
The Ponies are coming off of a grueling weekend in Belgrade in which they picked up a Central A conference win on Friday night over the Belgrade Panthers, as well as finishing in third place at the Central A Volleyball Extravaganza on Saturday. In that tournament, the Ponies were literally on the court the entire day, as they played three matches in the morning's pool play as well as four matches in the double-elimination tournament.
But despite his team's fast-paced schedule over the last two weeks, Blue Pony head coach Bill Huebsch is excited about the prospect of playing another two days worth of matches in Great Falls.
"Going to this tournament is a win-win situation for us," Huebsch said. "We get the opportunity to go up against a lot of really good competition and we have an opportunity to play a lot of games in two days and both of those things will benefit our team in the long run no matter how we do."
A lot of matches may be an understatement at the Electric City tournament. The Ponies will play seven matches on Friday as one of the eight teams in the Gold Pool which will be held at C.M. Russell High School.
The other eight teams will play in the Blue Pool which will be held at Great Falls High.
Pool play matches will be two games to 18 points and pool play will begin at 9 a.m. The top four teams from each pool will then advance to Saturday's championship double elimination tournament and the bottom four teams from each pool will play in a double-elimination consolation tournament.
"Our primary goal this weekend will be to make it into the championship tournament on Saturday," Huebsch said. "If we make it into that bracket, then we know we will have played very well in our pool against some very good competition. After that we will let the chips fall where they may."
The Electric City tournament will be one of the toughest fields that Havre will see all season, as all of the Class AA schools will be in attendance. The only other Class A schools invited besides Havre are Lewistown and Browning.
But the fact that the Great Falls tourney is mostly a Class AA showcase gives Huebsch another reason to feel it is to his team's advantage to be playing in it.
"This tournament gives us the opportunity to spend a lot of time on the court," Huebsch said. "And because how we do won't really hurt us in our conference, we will be able to experiment, change the lineup a little and have the opportunity to play a lot of our young kids."
"Also, the fact that all of our kids will get a lot of time against good teams will be really beneficial in the long run," Huebsch added. "If some of our girls can get into some difficult situations against quality opponents, hopefully they will learn from that and they will be more comfortable in those situations further down the road when we are playing teams from our own conference."
Havre will begin pool play at the Electric City Invitational on Friday morning at 9 a.m. All of the Ponies games will be held at The CMR Fieldhouse on Friday.