By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
With its season winding down, the Havre High volleyball team went on another rollercoaster ride this past weekend. The Ponies were once again turned away by archrival Lewistown on Friday night in Lewistown, but managed to bounce back at home on Saturday against Browning.
Feeling confident about their longest winning streak of the season, the Ponies traveled to Lewistown on Friday for a match with the Central A conference leading Eagles. But as quickly as Havre was up, they were sent crashing back down to earth, as the Eagles raced passed the Ponies by scores of 25-21, 25-11 and 25-16.
Despite the lopsided outcome, Havre was actually in position to steal the opening game from the Eagles. But with the score tied at 18-18, Havre committed a series of crucial errors that cost the Ponies the game, and perhaps the match.
Havre also opened the second game strong, taking an early 9-6 lead, according to HHS head coach Bill Huebsch. The Eagles then ripped off 11 straight points and never looked back as they have now made it three straight regular seasons without losing to their rivals from Havre.
"We had a lot of confidence going into Friday night and I think we came out ready to play," Huebsch said. "We played very well for most of the first game and parts of the second and third game.
"But when the lead slipped away from us in the second game, things just really went downhill from there," Huebsch added. "We just could never really recover from that run that Lewistown went on in that game."
The Eagles were not only the beneficiaries of some key Havre unforced errors. They also got a huge night from outside hitter Heidi Rettig, who racked up 12 kills, 11 digs and three service aces. Claire Slagel also had nine kills on the night. The Ponies got six kills from Carmen Neuens in the losing effort.
"I think the kids were really disappointed in the way they played on Friday night," Huebsch said. "They know that we made some very uncharacteristic mistakes and that we have to be better than that at this point in the season, because we are fighting for a spot in the state tournament right now."
Even though the Ponies may have been down on the ride home from Lewistown Friday night, it didn't take long to pick themselves back up with a win over Browning at the Havre High gymnasium on Saturday.
The Ponies defeated the Indians with the same ease as they did in Browning three weeks ago, winning by scores of 25-17, 25-14 and 25-20. Havre showed no ill effects from its match with Lewistown, racing out to a 9-2 game-one lead behind some solid all-around play by junior Keelie Solomon. Later in the game, sophomore Lena Suek got going at the net as Havre rolled to the game one win.
"I was really pleased to see that the girls responded well to Friday night," Huebsch said. "I thought we came out against Browning with a lot of intensity and enthusiasm and it showed in our play early in the match."
After the opening game, the Ponies romped in Game 2 with a 21-14 win. Havre took a substantial lead early in the third game. Browning rallied behind all-star senior Jenna Skunkcap, as she kept her team close throughout much of the game. But as soon as the Indians got close, Sjanettee D'Hooge came alive with a pair of late kills to propel the Ponies to a 25-20 win in the third and final game of the match.
The win improved Havre's overall record to 12-7 and, more importantly, kept the Ponies in second place in the Central A conference standings at 5-3. Huebsch happy with the effort of his team and its execution on the floor.
"I know the kids were disappointed with how they played on Friday," Huebsch said. "But they were also motivated to be better and they definitely were against Browning.
"I thought we passed the ball well and we played really solid defensively," Huebsch added. "We also terminated points much better and served much better than we did in Lewistown."
Suek paced the Ponies with 12 kills and 14 digs. D'Hooge also had nine kills and Karissa Olson added three aces. Skunkcap led Browning with nine kills and two aces.
Havre will now prepare to host Belgrade and Livingston as part of a quadrangular with Browning on Saturday at the HHS gymnasium. The Ponies will play Livingston at 3:30 p.m. and Belgrade at 6:30 p.m.
Lewistown def. Havre
25-21, 25-11, 25-16.
Lewistown - Kills 35 (Heidi Rettig 12, Claire Slagel 9); Blocks 6 (Kayla Horacek 3); Assists 34 (Alira Carpenter 33); Digs 55 (Heidi Rettig 11, Merrick Carpenter 10); Aces 7 (Ashley Boettger 3, Heidi Rettig 2).
Havre - Kills 26 (Carmen Neuens 6); Blocks 2 (Sjanetee D'Hooge 1, Liz Handy 1); Assists 20 (Alexa Lipp 18); Digs 47 (Lena Suek 9); Aces 2 (Kelsey Evans 1, Karissa Olson 1).
Havre Def. Browning
25-17, 25-14, 25-20
Havre - Kills 41 (Lena Suek 12, Sjanetee D'Hooge 9), Blocks 1 (Kristin Evanson 1); Assists 35 (Alexa Lipp 34); Digs 55 (Lena Suek 14, Keelie Solomon 12); Aces 11 (Karissa Olson 3).
Browning - Kills 18 (Jenna Skunkcap 9); Assists 14 (Noel Higgins 13); Digs 35 (Noel Higgins 12, Malisha Goggles 6); Aces 4 (Jenna Skunkcap 2).