By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High volleyball team has typically always been tested early in the regular season. With the Central A Volleyball Extravaganza and the Electric City Invitational on consecutive weekends, it has become a rigorous start to the season for the Ponies.
And if those two tournaments are a test, then in 2003 the Ponies have passed with flying colors. Fresh off of a third-place finish two weeks ago in Belgrade, Havre competed well at the prestigious Electric City Invitational in Great Falls on Friday and Saturday.
Going into the Class AA tourney in Great Falls, Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch set the realistic goal of getting through pool play and advancing to Saturday's championship, double-elimination tournament, which is something the Ponies hadn't done in a while. And when the dust settled on Friday night, advancing to Saturday's big bracket is exactly what his team did.
"We went into this tournament, much like we did last weekend," Huebsch said. "We had a specific goal and we achieved it. I was real pleased with how Friday went for us and we end up taking second in our pool."
Pool play began for Havre on Friday morning at the CMR Fieldhouse as the Ponies were placed in the gold pool. Havre started off being swept by Billings Skyview and Billings Senior. But then the Ponies rallied to win nine straight games over the course of their next ten games en route to a 9-5 record overall on Friday.
"We didn't start off playing as well as I would have liked against Skyview and Senior," Huebsch said. "I think the girls may have been a little surprised at how big the AA teams are.
"But as the day went on we got better and better and ended up winning nine games in a row," Huebsch added. "It was nice to see us get better in a tournament and we found out a lot about ourselves."
On Saturday, the Ponies began tournament play at the CMR Fieldhouse with a first-round match against tournament co-host Great Falls High . After dropping the first game, the Ponies rallied to push the Bison to a third game before falling 25-11. Havre committed 37 unforced errors in the match and Huebsch said that type of play could have easily been the difference between the two schools.
"We were playing Great Falls High very tough," Huebsch said. "But then our serve-receive broke down and you're just not going to beat anybody when you commit that many errors."
The loss moved the Ponies into loser-out play where they again met up with Billings Skyview. And once gain, Havre pushed the match to a third game before falling late in the third game to be eliminated from the tournament.
"One of the nice things about the Billings Skyview match on Saturday is we got better," Huebsch said. "They swept us in pool play and then we come back on Saturday and really pushed them. That is what we are looking for is to get better each time out.
"We have just played in two very good tournaments against a lot of good competition," Huebsch added. "And as a coach I believe we have exceeded a lot of expectations. We know what we do well and we know the things we need to get better at. The nice thing is that we're playing well right now and we have a lot of season to keep getting better."
Billings Skyview def. Havre 18-5, 18-8
Billings Senior def. Havre 18-9, 18-12
Havre def. Kalispell 18-15, 18-12
Havre def. Missoula Big Sky 18-14, 18-14
Havre def. Butte High 18-16, 18-13
Havre def. CMR 18-14, 18-11
Havre split with Helena Capitol 18-10, 16-18.
GFH def. Havre 22-25, 25-20, 25-11
Billings Skyview def.Havre 25-17, 22-25, 25-20 (lo).