By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For the first time in 2003, the Havre High volleyball team's youth and inexperience were exposed.
The Ponies dropped a heartbreaking five-game decision to the Dillon Beavers Saturday afternoon in Lewistown.
The Ponies found themselves just three points from capturing a huge upset win over the heavily favored Beavers, but ended up falling in the decisive game 16-14.
"We were leading 12-8 in the final game and we needed just three points," said Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch. "But things really fell apart from there. We just could not find a way to finish it off."
Huebsch said his team's lack of experience in such a crucial situation definitely played a part in the Ponies' undoing late in the match.
"We have a lot of kids with not very much match experience. Even our seniors don't have experience in those situations," Huebsch said. "We work on that exact scenario in practice. We usually do pretty well, but on Saturday we just folded. It is disappointing right now, but hopefully we will learn from this match and not repeat it."
The Ponies opened the match with Dillon much like they finished it. Havre dropped the opening game 24-26 after leading by as much as four points on several occasions. They then proceeded to capture the next two games by scores of 25-21 and 25-21 before dropping the fourth game by the same margin.
"Realistically, we could have won that match in three games," Huebsch said. "If we could have found a way to finish that first game off, then we win the match in three games. But unforced errors really hurt us in that first game and we ended up letting them come back on us."
Despite the loss, the Ponies got a huge match from junior Alicia Overcast. She racked up 17 kills and 23 digs to lead the way for the Ponies. Alexa Lipp also had a good day for Havre with 36 assists and three aces. As expected, Tiffany Stoddard led the Beavers with 20 kills and 18 digs.
The loss drops Havre to 7-4 overall and 3-1 in conference play. And it also leaves Huebsch conflicted about what his team will take away from the match.
"The good thing is that we showed that we can play with Dillon and there is no reason why we can''t beat them," Huebsch said. "But I am also a little discouraged because twice we had chances to finish off games and we couldn't do it. But I told the girls that we cannot dwell on this loss and hopefully we will learn from what went wrong and capitalize on it next time."
The Ponies will return to Lewistown Saturday for a true triangular meet. Havre will face the host Eagles as well as Livingston.
Dillon def. Havre
26-24, 21-25, 21-25, 25-21, 16-4.
Dillon - Kills 47 (Tiffany Stoddard 20), Assists 46 (Valory Monaco 45), Aces 11 (Monaco 3), Digs 75 (Stoddard 18).
Havre - Kills 49 (Alicia Overcast 17), Assists 37 (Alexa Lipp 36), Aces 6 (Lipp 3), Digs 76 (Overcast 23), Blocks 6 (Kristin Evanson 3).