By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sports/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Momentum is important in any sport. High school volleyball is no exception to that rule. Even though the 2003 girls volleyball season is still in its infancy, the Havre Blue Ponies will look to capitalize on the momentum they built in the opening weekend of the season when they travel to Belgrade today for a conference tilt with the host Panthers.
The Ponies will also participate in the annual Central A Volleyball Extravaganza on Saturday, which will also be held at the Belgrade Special Events Center.
After his team's pair of conference victories over Butte Central and Anaconda in Havre last weekend, Blue Pony head coach Bill Huebsch is hoping that momentum and confidence will play a key role in this weekends matches.
"As a coach you would like to think that we built some momentum with how well we played at home last weekend," Huebsch said. "Now we just want to go to Belgrade and play well. Hopefully how we played last weekend will give the girls some confidence and they can carry that into this weekend."
The Ponies (2-0, 2-0) open their big weekend tonight with an important Central A match with the Belgrade Panthers. And even though the Extravaganza is the big event of the weekend, Huebsch is placing a lot of importance on tonight's match.
"Our first goal this weekend is to get the win over Belgrade," Huebsch said. "We need to pick up as many conference wins as we can because we know that there is going to be a lot of jockeying for seeding for the divisional tournament at the end of the season. So that makes these early conference games very big."
The Panthers come into tonight's match at 0-1 on the young season. But like most teams Havre will play this year, Belgrade has a distinct height advantage over the Ponies. Belgrade is led by middle blockers Jamie Janikula and Lindsay Hill. But Huebsch will hope to impose mistakes on the Panthers with a strong service game.
"We served and passed the ball really well last weekend," Huebsch said. "If we can do that again and if we have improved in some of the areas we needed work on, then I think we will have a good chance against Belgrade."
On Saturday morning, the Ponies will begin pool play at the Central A Extravaganza and they will see some familiar faces in their side of the draw.
Havre will begin play with a match against Anaconda at 9 a.m. They will then play Butte Central at 10 and Belgrade at 11. The other pool will include conference favorites Lewistown, Dillon and Livingston, as well as the Browning Indians. Each pool game will be one game to 25 points, or whoever is leading after 25 minutes.
Teams will then be seeded into a bracket by records from pool play and will play a true double-elimination tournament that will begin at 12:30 p.m.
"Our goal for Saturday will be to sweep our pool and then see how we stack up against the likes of Lewistown and Dillon," Huebsch said. "Fortunately for us, we will have played everyone in our pool before we even begin the tournament, so we expect to do well in our side on Saturday morning.
"The good thing about this tournament is it gives us the opportunity to get a lot of matches in," Huebsch added. "We can play and see all of the teams in our conference and it should give us a good idea of where we stand against the rest of our conference as well as show us the areas where we need to get better."
The match between Havre and Belgrade will get under way tonight at 8 p.m. The Central A Volleyball Extravaganza will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning.