By George Ferguson/Havre Daily News Sportsemail@example.com
There is an old cliche about the third time being a charm. In sports, that may not always be the case. The third matchup this season between the Havre High volleyball team and the Butte Central Maroons was far from charming for the Blue Ponies.
Havre made the long trek to Butte on Saturday morning for the Central A conference showdown with the Maroons. The Ponies had already defeated Butte Central twice this season, but this time the Maroons found a way to edge Havre in five games by scores of 16-25, 25-18, 14-25, 25-23,16-14.
It was the second time the two teams had gone to a fifth game this season.
The loss left HHS head coach Bill Huebsch scratching his head.
"When you look at the stats, we didn't play that badly overall," Huebsch said. "We passed the ball pretty well and we served the ball right about where we always do. We also played very well defensively."
But the Ponies struggled in the one area in which they've been searching for consistency all season - hitting. The Ponies had just 35 assists in five games and had just 39 kills on the night. The Ponies committed 27 hitting errors in the match.
"That is definitely where the match went away from us," Huebsch said. "We really struggled hitting the ball and we made some hitting mistakes at some very crucial points in the match.
"We have been working on getting better, hitting the ball every day in practice, and I have seen improvement every day," Huebsch added. "But right now the kids are not transferring what they learn in practice into the matches."
Things started off pretty well for the Ponies as they rolled to a 25-15 victory in the first game. The Maroons bounced back to win game two, 25-18. Havre regained its form in the third game as it routed the Maroons 25-14 to take a 2-1 lead.
The Ponies fell behind early before storming back in game four. That is where the first of two crucial serving errors took place. Down 23-24, Keelie Solomon hit a serve out of bounds that gave the Maroons the fourth game and pushed the match to a decisive fifth game.
In the fifth game, the two teams seesawed back and forth before the Ponies were able to tie the match at 14-14. A Havre hitting error on the next point gave Butte Central a match point, and Ellen Holland put the match away with an ace.
"We made some very crucial mistakes at some very crucial times," Huebsch said. "We had a lot of momentum built in the fourth game and we had chances to put the match away right there. And even though we didn't play particularly well in the fifth game, we were right there to the end and we had our chances.
"But the way we hit the ball throughout the match was just not going to get it done," he added. "This is something we just have to go back and work harder at. We have some very good players on this team and I think all the pieces are there. We just have to learn from this and work hard to get better."
Sophomore Lena Suek paced the Ponies with 12 kills and 17 digs. Keelie Solomon added 20 digs in a very strong defensive effort.
"Lena had a great all-around game and Keelie Solomon played really well," Huebsch said. "I also thought Kelsey Evans played really well. She passed the ball great and played great defense."
The loss drops the Ponies to 3-1 in conference play and 7-4 overall. While it was a difficult loss to take, Huebsch remains optimistic about where his team can go this season.
"This was a tough loss, but we'll learn from it and move on," Huebsch said. "We have the chance to be a really good team this season and we just have to keep working hard and learning from what went wrong this weekend."
The Ponies will be back on the road on Thursday night when they travel to Browning for another critical Central A conference match. The match between the Ponies and Indians is scheduled to get under way at 7 p.m.
Butte Central def. Havre
16-25, 25-18, 14-25, 25-23, 16-14
Kills - BC 39 (Brenna Manion 15, Jodi Hogart 7, Katelyn McCarthy 6,), Havre 39 (Lena Suek 12, Carmen Neuens 7). Blocks - BC 9 (McCarthy 4.5, Hogart 2, Kling 1, Pendergast 1, Manion .5), Havre 2 (Liz Handy 1, Neuens 1). Assists - BC 23 (Jodi Hogart 15, Peterson 8), Havre 35 (Alex Lipp 35). Digs - BC 103 (McCarthy 24, Hogart 23, Manion 15, Peterson 15, Erin Holland 11, Brophy 10), Havre 90 (Keelie Soloman 20, Suek 17). Aces - BC 6 (Hogart 3, Holland 2), Havre 4 (Lipp 2).
Havre JV def. Butte Central JV
23-25, 24-26, 12-15
B.C. freshmen def. Havre freshmen
26-28, 25-19, 15-12, 11-15, 15-7