By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For the third time this season, the Havre High volleyball team will take on the Butte Central Maroons. This time it will be on the Maroons home floor as the Ponies make the long trip to Butte on Saturday morning for a pivotal Central A conference match.
The Ponies come into Saturday's road match with a 7-3 overall record, but more importantly Havre is currently 3-0 in conference play and is sitting in the drivers seat for a regular season conference title.
Still, veteran HHS head coach Bill Huebsch knows that it is still September and the match with the Maroons is more than important.
"The kids want to go undefeated in conference play this season," Huebsch said. "That was a preseason goal for them. We have played Butte Central twice and we have improved each time. This match is really important for us because we have some tough conference matches coming up and we need this win."
Havre opened its season against the Maroons in August and was able to pull out a close five-game win. The next weekend the Ponies saw the Maroons again at the Windy City Classic in Livingston, and once again the Ponies were victorious.
Huebsch likes the constant improvement his team has shown throughout the season and is looking for it to continue on Saturday.
"I would like to think we will be even better this time around," Huebsch said. "In the first match against them, it was our first time on the floor and we made some mistakes. In Livingston, we were much better which is what you want to see when you play a team a second or third time."
Not only is the match against Butte Central critical to Havre's overall success in the Central A conference, but the timing of the road trip is also important. Havre has been plagued by inconsistent hitting this season. Huebsch said that his team has been fighting that inconsistency each day in practice with things starting to look up.
"Carmen Neuens has started to hit the ball really well lately," Huebsch said. "And Lena Suek and Liz Handy are both getting better every match.
"We are working on our passing inconsistency every day ," Huebsch added. "And we are working on our hitting inconsistency each day as well. It is a process that is getting better. Hopefully, we will reach the point that we are trying to get to by the time the divisional tournament comes around."
Suek is just a sophomore, but she is leading the Ponies in total kills this season with 68. Havre has also gotten very consistent play from junior Alexa Lipp, who has racked up 235 assists so far this season.
The strongest area for Havre has been serving. Senior Kristen Evanson leads the team with 32 aces this season, and both she and Karissa Olson are serving at a solid 93 percent on the year. Junior Kelsey Evans is leading the team defensively with 136 digs.
"I think things are starting to gel pretty well," Huebsch said. "We struggled in Great Falls, but then we came back and played great against Chinook last week.
"As a coach, that is what you want to see," Huebsch added. "These kids have done a great job of learning from our mistakes and correcting them."
The match between Havre and Butte Central will get underway at 3 p.m. in Butte. The Ponies will be back in action next Thursday when they travel to Browning.