By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
Over the past two seasons, the rivalry between the Havre High and Chinook volleyball teams has gotten a little more heated with every match. For the fourth straight time, the Ponies and Beeters played yet another thrilling match as Havre downed the Beeters in five games to earn a season sweep over its Class B rivals.
Havre took advantage of a slow start by Chinook and routed the Beeters 25-19 in game one. Chinook then rebounded to capture the next two games by scores of 25-22 and 25-20. After winning game four, 25-19, the Ponies were able to outlast Chinook in the decisive fifth game by a score of 15-10.
After the match, both Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch and Chinook head man Jay Eslick were quick to praise not only their own team's performance but their respective opponent's as well.
"I thought we had our good moments and our bad moments tonight," Huebsch said. "We played well early and then Chinook came back on us. You can't take anything away from the way they played. But it was also nice to see our girls come back from being down 2-1 and persevere"
Said Eslick: "We played Havre very tough tonight and our kids don't have anything to be disappointed about. But you have to give a lot of credit to Havre, they were very tough tonight, especially when it looked like they were down. For them to come back like that is a real credit to Coach Huebsch and the Havre players."
In the matches' early moments, things appeared to really be in the favor of the deeper Class A Ponies. Havre built a large 24-13 lead, but then needed seven of its 11 game points to put the Beeters away. The final point finally came on an Alicia Overcast block at 24-19. And even though Havre captured game one, the momentum had clearly swung to the Beeters side of the floor.
"I was disappointed that we went into that lull at the end of game one," Huebsch said. "It seemed to carry over into the next two games, because our hitters didn't play very well. They just weren't very smart at the net during those two games and that fed right into Chinook's block and they took full advantage of it."
Indeed, the Beeters took advantage of countless two-on-one block situations in the next two games. Whitney Lybeck, Kelsey Crampton and Georgia Barber had a field day at the net defending attempted Blue Pony kills. Over the course of the middle two games, the Pony hitters simply did not adjust.
After coming back from a 7-0 deficit in game two, Chinook went on a 10-0 run late in the game to square the match at one game a piece. The Beeters strong play at the net continued deep into game three.
The key point in that game came with the Beeters leading 12-11. Havre got two-straight Kristi Owens kills and appeared to be building momentum. However, Whitney Lybeck answered with a kill of her own that ignited Chinook on a 5-0 run. The Beeters followed that up with a 7-0 run later in the game, which eventually put the Ponies in a 2-1 hole.
"I thought our girls played very aggressive at the net for most of the night," Eslick said. "We were having some success with our block in the second and third games. But I also think Havre did a good job of adjusting to it late in the match. We almost became a little to predictable in the end. Sometimes that's just the way things happen."
Staring down a possible loss, the Ponies did as much as they could to regain momentum that had been taken away in the previous two games. After the Beeters grabbed an early 10-8 lead, Havre responded by going on a 10-2 run that began with two solid kills by Overcast. That run proved to be too much for the Beeters, as the Ponies cruised to a 25-19 win that would send the match into a decisive fifth game.
In game five, the Havre hitters reemerged to seize control early on. Owens had a couple of emphatic kills early and Kelsey Smith sealed the Beeters' fate with two-straight kills to bring the Ponies to match point at 14-10. The game and match ended on a Beeter hitting miscue as the Ponies held on for the five game win.
"Both teams played really well at different times tonight," Eslick said. "But I think at the end Havre has the advantage of being able to go a little deeper into their bench than we do and that may have been one of the key differences. But I am not disappointed at all with the play from our kids. I think they gave Havre everything they wanted tonight."
Said Huebsch: "This was definitely a good test for us tonight. Chinook plays very good volleyball and we were fortunate to get a victory tonight. Hopefully this match will help us in the long run as we get closer to the divisional tournament because tonight was the same kind of atmosphere."
Once again the Ponies got a big night from Owens and Overcast. The two had 19 and 13 kills, respectively, while Overcast chipped in with 18 digs and 2 blocks. Senior Brittany Vandersloot was also solid for Havre as she had 20 digs and two aces. Whitney Lybeck led the way for the Beeters with 12 kills and five blocks. Kayla Erskine added 11 kills and Andrea Eslick chipped in with 15 assists and 2 aces.
Chinook is 9-3 overall on the season while the Ponies run their record to 10-6. Havre is now off until Oct. 24 when it travels to Browning.
Havre def. Chinook
25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-10.
Havre - Kills 52 (Kristi Owens 10, Alicia Overcast 13), Blocks 8 (Alicia Overcast 2, Ashley Hagen 2), Assists 43 (Alexa Lipp 43), Digs 74 (Brittany Vandersloot 20, Alicia Overcast 18), Aces 6 (Brittany Vandersloot 2).
Chinook - Kills 47 (Whitney Lybeck 12, Kayla Erskine 11), Blocks 9 (Whitney Lybeck 5), Assists 38 (Tiffany Cuerth 19, Andrea Eslick 15), Digs 87 (Monica Thackeray 21, Shaylan Haugen 16), Aces 3 (Andrea Eslick 2).