By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Going into the weekend in Livingston, the Havre High volleyball team had one last opportunity to make a statement and prepare for this weekend's Central A divisional tournament in Belgrade.
On a weekend the Ponies have struggled with in the past, Havre racked up one more final conference win over the host Livingston Rangers on Friday night and then raced to a stellar second-place finish in Saturday's Windy City Classic, also hosted by the Rangers.
"I couldn't be more pleased with how this weekend went," said Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch. "We went down to Livingston with the goal of winning Friday's match and placing in the top three in the tournament. So the kids exceeded all of my expectations.
"I think we also got everything we wanted to do accomplished," Huebsch added. "The team played well in every match and we got to see all of our conference opponents one more time before divisionals."
On Friday night Havre knocked off the Livingston Rangers by scores of 25-22, 25-20, 22-25 and 25-19. The win over the Rangers was Havre's final conference match of the season and Huebsch was more than pleased with his team's efforts, especially in the area of serving - where the Ponies have been struggling as of late.
Kristi Owens led the way for the Ponies, racking up 19 kills. Kelsey Smith added 2 blocks, and Kari Bolken added three aces on the night.
Havre began Saturday morning's pool play with a win over Browning and another win over the Rangers. Sandwiched in between was a loss to Havre's nemesis, the Lewistown Eagles.
"We played really well in pool play and our serve percentage continued to stay up there," Huebsch said. "Even though we lost to Lewistown, I was really happy with the way we started out our day."
After finishing pool play with a 2-1 record, the Ponies entered the afternoon tournament bracket with a three-game win over Browning. After Havre captured the first game 25-16, the Indians rallied in game two but Havre was able to put them away in the decisive third game by a score of 15-10. In the semifinal round, the Ponies quickly dispatched the Belgrade Panthers 26-24 and 25-14. The win over the Panthers set up a rematch with Lewistown. In that match, the Ponies kept pace with the Eagles before falling 25-20, and then the Eagles put the Ponies away 25-17.
"Both times this weekend it was the same story against Lewistown," Huebsch said. "We kept things close in the first game, but errors killed us in both matches."
In the championship match, Havre got six kills apiece from Owens and Smith. Lesly Richter led the way for the Eagles with 11 kills.
With the win over Livingston on Friday, Havre finished Central A Conference play with a 7-3 record. After the Windy City Classic on Saturday, the Ponies finished regular season play with a 13-8 overall record.
"This weekend did a lot of good for our team before divisionals," Huebsch said. "Kelsey Smith, Alexa Lipp and Kristi Owens all played really well consistently, and as a team we served much better all weekend.
"Hopefully how we played in Livingston will give us that added boost of confidence for this coming weekend," Huebsch added.
The Ponies will now focus their attention on preparation for the Central A divisional tournament in Belgrade. Havre will open tournament play on Thursday afternoon against the Anaconda Copperheads.
Havre def. Livingston
25-22, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19
Havre - Kills 41 (Kristi Owens 14), Blocks 3 (Kelsey Smith 21/2), Aces 8 (Kari Bolken 3), Digs 51 (Alicia Overcast 10, Brittany Vandersloot 10), Assists 34 (Alexa Lipp 34),
Livingston - Kills 50 (Leah Boehler 21), Blocks 10 (Shannon Bosley 5), Aces 7 (Ashton Fink 2, Melissa Davaz 2), Digs 32 (Kaitlin Kaiser 8), Assists 48 (Fink 47),
WINDY CITY CLASSIC
Lewistown def. Anaconda 25-23, 25-19
Dillon def. Butte Central 25-19, 25-22
Belgrade def. Livingston 23-25, 25-15, 16-14
Havre def. Browning 25-16, 18-25, 15-10
Havre def. Belgrade
26-24, 25-14 (semifinal)
Havre (15-7) - Kills 24 (Kristi Owens 12), Assists 20 (Alexa Lipp 18), Aces 3 (Brittany Vandersloot 2), Digs 35 (Alicia Overcast 9), Blocks 4 (Lipp 2, Kelsey Smith 2),
Belgrade (2-8, 8-16) - Kills 14 (Jamie Janikula 5), Assists 13 (Bonnie Brummond 13), Aces 7 (Brianna Sullivan 6), Digs 33 (Brummond 11), Blocks 1 (Janikula 1),
Lewistown def. Havre
25-17, 25-20 (championship)
Havre (7-3, 15-8) - Kills 18 (Owens 6, Smith 6), Assists 17 (Lipp 17), Aces 0, Digs 61 (Vandersloot 10), Blocks 2 (Kristin Evanson 1, Kaci Herron 1),
Lewistown (10-0, 19-4) - Kills 33 (Richter 11), Assists 28 (Tognetti 27), Aces 5 (Conroy 2), Digs 52 (Rettig 12), Blocks 1 (Slagel 1),