By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For a moment on Friday night, it looked as though the Havre High volleyball team's season was taking a turn in the wrong direction. Just 24 hours removed from a tough conference loss to Lewistown, the Ponies found themselves trailing Class B Cut Bank two games to one.
With things looking bleak, something switched on inside the Ponies. The Ponies dug themselves out of the hole they had put themselves in, to pick up a 25-22, 17-25, 15-25, 25-23, 15-13 victory over the Wolves.
"I think that the kids were very disappointed in themselves in the way they were playing going into the fourth game," said HHS head coach Bill Huebsch of the come-from-behind win. "Nothing was going our way at that point. But somehow they raised the intensity level up and all of a sudden the momentum of the match changed and carried over into the fifth game.
"I was really proud of the kids, because they showed a lot of character to come back and win that match when things didn't look good."
Indeed, things did not look good for the Ponies as the fourth game of the match began.
After a solid 25-22 win in game one, Havre fell apart in the next two games. Cut Bank got on a roll in the second game behind the superb hitting of Marissa Stanchfield. The Wolves put the Ponies away 25-17.
Things got even worse for the Ponies in game three. The hitting of Stanchfield combined with the nonexistent hitting of Havre's front line led the Wolves to an easy 25-15 win and a 2-1 lead in the match.
Stanchfield opened the fourth game with a service ace and it appeared that it would be more of the same. However, the Ponies took advantage of a couple of Cut Bank hitting mistakes and grabbed a 4-1 lead on a Kristin Evanson ace. That ace proved critical, because Havre would maintain that three-point lead throughout the remainder of the game en route to a 25-23 win, forcing a decisive fifth game.
"We certainly started to pass the ball much better in the fourth game," Huebsch said. "That enabled us to finally get into our offense, and as a result, we were hitting the ball much better and with a lot more consistency. That carried over into the fifth game."
In the fifth game, the two teams see-sawed early on, until Cut Bank wrestled the lead away from the Ponies on another Stanchfield kill.
The Wolves led 8-4, but the Ponies came roaring back behind some good defense and a pair of Alexa Lipp aces. With the match tied at 12, Lena Suek and Keelie Solomon provided a pair of emphatic kills to give Havre a couple of chances to end the match. The Ponies finally put the match away when Sjanetee D'Hooge bombed a clean winner down the line to seal the win.
"It was kind of fitting that Sjanettee had the winning kill," Huebsch said. "She had her best match of the season, and she was a big reason why we were able to come back and win this match.
"We knew coming in that Cut Bank was a good team," Huebsch said. "They came in and were ready to play. But our kids did what they had to do to get a win. I was really proud of the way they fought to the end and didn't give up."
D'Hooge led the Ponies statistically with a season-high 12 kills and 4.5 blocks. Suek and Carmen Neuens chipped in with eight kills apiece on a rare night when all Havre's hitters were in the positive. The Ponies also served well, with Solomon leading the way with six aces.
On Saturday afternoon, the Ponies could not physically recover from their thriller with Cut Bank. They were trounced by Great Falls High at the Bison Fieldhouse in three games, 25-18, 25-13 and 25-16.
Huebsch said that the Ponies started off playing well in the first game of the match, but it was obvious that his team was fatigued from the start of the match.
"I just didn't see any legs or arms out there," Huebsch said. "I really can't be disappointed in them, because they had a tough match with Lewistown on Thursday and a really long match with Cut Bank. They played hard, but there just wasn't much left in the tank at that point. Great Falls is a good team, and they took advantage of that."
The loss to the Bison dropped the Ponies' overall record to 9-6 this season. Havre is still 4-2 in Central A conference play. Huebsch said that even though they dropped a pair of matches on the weekend, he saw some good things out of his young team.
"I think you can find something good in every match whether you win or lose," Huebsch said. "Obviously, I was really proud of the comeback against Cut Bank. I also think the kids know they can play with Lewistown. They learned that unforced errors against a quality team like that won't get it done, and the good thing is we will get another shot at them before divisional."
Havre def. Cut Bank
25-22, 17-25, 15-25, 25-23, 15-13.
Havre - Kills 44 (Sjanetee D'Hooge 12, Lean Suek 8, Carmen Neuens 8); Blocks 11 (Sjanetee D'Hooge 4.5, Liz Handy 3); Assists 36 (Alexa Lipp 35); Digs 61 (Karissa Olson 12, Kelsey Evans 10); Aces 14 (Keelie Solomon 6).
Cut Bank - Kills 34 (Marissa Stanchfield 10, Melanie Rice 10); Blocks 15 (Sam Shelbe 7, Marissa Stanchfield 6); Assists 45 (Brianne Stanchfield 38); Digs 81 (Jessica Jacobsen 20, Sam Shelbe 19) Aces 6 (Sam Shelbe 3).
GFH def Havre
25-18, 25-13, 25-16.
Havre - Kills 21 (Lena Suek 6) Blocks 1 (Sjanetee D'Hooge 1); Assists 18 (Alexa Lipp 18); Digs 56 (Kristin Evanson 14, Keelie Solomon 10); Aces 5 (Karissa Olson 2).
GFH - Kills 30 (Stephanie Schaffel 9, Katlyn Mitchell 9); Blocks 9 (Marissa Jenkins 5); Assists 23 (Baylee Sorensen 23); Digs 35 (Stephanie Schaffel 9, Katlyn Mitchell 9); Aces 8 (Baylee Sorensen 4).