By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
Momentum. It is a word that isn't taken lightly in the sports world. On Tuesday night at the Havre High gymnasium, the Havre High volleyball team seized the momentum very early and never looked back, en route to a four-game win over the Class B Chinook Sugarbeeters in nonconference volleyball action.
The Ponies defeated the Beeters by scores of 25-16, 25-23, 23-25, and 25-13.
While Havre was seemingly in control throughout the first two games of the match, it was the game that the Ponies didn't win in which HHS head coach Bill Huebsch thought was most critical in the final outcome.
Trailing Chinook 19-13 midway through game three the Ponies fought all the way back to 22-22 before Chinook eventually finished the game off. While Havre still dropped the pivotal game, Huebsch said that the comeback by his team made the difference going into the fourth game.
"You can't take anything away from what Chinook did in the third game," Huebsch said. "They were in a do-or-die situation, and they just played better than we did for most of that game.
"But I thought that it was huge for us to come back and make that game close because it gave us a lot of momentum that we had kind of lost," he added. "If we had gotten blown out in that game, things might have been different. But instead we were playing well going into the fourth game and it showed."
Despite dropping the third game of the match, Havre still possessed a 2-1 lead.
The Ponies easily captured the first two games of the match before Chinook really got on track. The Ponies were hitting the ball very well, especially junior Liz Handy, who would end the night with a season-high 15 kills.
Meanwhile, the Beeters committed a ton of unforced errors before middle-hitter Kassie Dugan awoke early in game three. Chinook also got solid play from Brittany Williams in that game.
"We definitely played much better in the third game," said Chinook head coach Doug Hayes. "But we committed a lot of unforced errors tonight, and we did not pass the ball well at all. When you do that against a good team like Havre, it makes things pretty tough."
The momentum that the Ponies had seized in game three certainly carried over into game four. The Ponies played nearly flawless volleyball as they jumped out to 9-2 lead capped off by a Karissa Olson ace. The Beeters managed to close the gap to 9-6 behind the net play of Williams, but the Ponies ripped off another 11 straight points and never looked back, cruising to a 25-13 win and a 3-1 match win.
Aside from Havre's comeback in game three, Huebsch said that the solid play of his front line made a huge difference against the taller Beeters.
"I thought that all are hitters played solid all the way around," Huebsch said. "Liz Handy had a season-high for us in kills and she really got hot. And Sjanetee D'Hooge played tough once again. Her defensive play at the net was crucial tonight."
Said Hayes: "We may have a size advantage against Havre, but they are a quick team and the played great defensively tonight. The dug up a lot of balls and their hitters played well at the net. That was a key difference in the match."
Besides Handy's 15 kills, the Ponies got nine kills from Carmen Neuens and three blocks from D'Hooge. Lena Suek paced the Ponies defensively with 12 digs, while Kelsey Evans added 11.
The Beeters were paced by an outstanding performance from Dugan. The junior racked up 14 kills and five blocks in the losing effort. Setter Crystal Roseberry had 10 assists and Morgan Obie added 13 digs in the losing effort.
The win gave Havre a sweep of the two rivalry matches with Chinook this season. It was a tough loss for Chinook, but Hayes is still pleased with where his team is at, as it prepares for the postseason.
"We didn't play as well as we would of liked tonight, but you have to give Havre a lot of credit for that," Hayes said. "I still think we are in a good position right now because we're 6-0 in conference play and we are feeling pretty good about ourselves and how we're playing right now."
The Ponies have put together a three-match home winning streak and pushed their overall record to 11-6. Havre is 4-2 in conference play and will resume that schedule next week. The Ponies will have 10 days until they are back in action, and Huebsch will the time to regroup and refocus for the final two weeks of the regular season.
"This was a nice win for us and I think we have really built some good momentum up," Huebsch said. "We're going to take a couple of days off and get rested and ready for next week. We have four tough matches left. We need to be really sharp and really focused the rest of the season."
Havre will be back in action on Friday Oct. 29 when it travels to Lewistown. The Ponies will host Browning the following night.
Havre def. Chinook
25-15, 25-23, 22-25, 25-13
Havre - Kills 44 (Liz Handy 15, Carmen Neuens 9); Blocks (Sjanetee D'Hooge 3); Assists 32 (Alexa Lipp 32); Digs 56 (Lena Suek 12, Kelsey Evans 11); Aces 10 (Kristin Evanson 3, Alexa Lipp 3).
Chinook - Kills 39 (Kassie Dugan 14); Blocks (Kassie Dugan 5); Assists 15 (Crystal Roseberry 10); Digs 63 (Morgan Obie 13); Aces 2 (Andrea Eslick 1, Morgan Obie 1).