By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsfirstname.lastname@example.org
The first weekend of November will be the last weekend of the regular season for the Havre High volleyball team.
There will be plenty at stake this weekend as the Ponies try to secure second place in the final regular season Central A standings. Havre will host Livingston and Belgrade Saturday as part of a quadrangular meet with Browning.
As it stands, the Ponies currently sit in second place in the Central A with a 5-3 record in conference play and 13-7 record overall.
Lewistown has already clinched the Central A conference regular season championship and with it a bye in the first round of the Central A divisional tournament next week. Butte Central's season is over with a 6-4 conference record. The Maroons would need Havre to stumble this weekend in order to force a tie for second.
Likewise for the visiting Panthers. Belgrade is currently 4-4 in conference play and a win over Havre would help its cause. However, the Ponies hold tiebreakers over both the Maroons and Panthers, so a second-place finish seems likely for the Ponies.
HHS head coach Bill Huebsch would just prefer his team to win both its matches on Saturday and leave no doubt about who gets the other first-round bye at the divisional tournament.
"Our destiny has been in our own hands for a couple of weeks now," Huebsch said. "Second place in our conference is huge because the road to state is a little less difficult.
"The kids understand what they are playing for," he added. "Practice this week has been good and the kids are excited to play at home again this weekend."
First for Havre will be the Livingston Rangers. Livingston has struggled this season in conference play, including a blowout loss to Havre at home back in early September. However, the Rangers still have 6-2 hitter Shannon Bosley and Huebsch knows that when she is in the front row, she makes her team very dangerous.
"Bosley is a big part of whether or not Livingston has success," Huebsch said. "She is going to get some kills up front, but when she cycles through to the back row, I feel like we match up with them very well."
The Panthers are also 0-2 against Havre this season. The Ponies routed Belgrade twice in Livingston back in September, but they have been one of the Central A's hottest team's recently. The match between Havre and Belgrade on Saturday night could be the one that decides second place in the conference, once and for all.
"I think Belgrade is a much better team now than we we played them in Livingston," Huebsch said. "They have a pair of sophomores that are over 6-0 and they present some matchup problems for us.
"The key for us this weekend is to play with some consistency," Huebsch added. "We have to hit the ball well and do the things that we do well. This is the time of year that we need to be sharp every match, and I think the girls understand that."
Before the Ponies take to the floor against Belgrade Saturday night, they will honor senior Kristin Evanson. Evanson is team captain and has been a two-year varsity contributor. Her efforts on and off the floor will be missed, according to Huebsch.
"Kristin has done a great job for us this season," Huebsch said. "She has been one of our most consistent players no matter where we put her.
"But I think we will miss her leadership more than anything," he added. "Her teammates voted her captain, and she has been a great leader for our young team all season. The team really respects her and looks up to her."
Havre will face Livingston at 3:30 p.m. and Belgrade at 6:30. Browning will also face Belgrade and Livingston on Saturday and all the action will take place at the Havre High gymnasium.