Havre Daily News Sports
It was an interesting homecoming weekend for the Havre High volleyball team. The Ponies were forced to recover from a stunning three-game loss at Class B Cut Bank on Thursday night, by downing the Browning Indians in three games at the Havre High gymnasium Saturday afternoon.
After the loss to the Wolves on Thursday, the Ponies didn't wait long to take their frustrations out on Browning in what would eventually be a three-game conference win for the Ponies by scores of 25-9, 26-24 and 25-23.
In Game 1, the Ponies raced out to an early 7-2 lead behind the stellar play of senior Keelie Solomon. Solomon came up with several key digs that set up easy Havre scoring opportunities. Later in the game, Solomon spurred a 10-0 run that would finish Browning off. She served out the last seven points of the game, in which she fired two aces.
"I thought we were very sharp in the first game," said HHS head coach Bill Huebsch. "It was really nice to see us come out and control the tempo of the game with our passing and our serve receive game.
"We really got on a roll," he added. "And Keelie Solomon did a great job passing the ball for us in that game and throughout the match."
As quickly as it had seemed the Ponies would easily dispatch Browning, the tables turned in the second and third games. The Indians started to play much better and pushed the Ponies to the brink in the second game.
Havre made a run to break the game open a little and they gained a 23-19 advantage behind the outstanding hitting of Lena Suek. But the Indians closed the gap and tied the game at 24-24 behind some solid all-around play from senior Jenna Skunkcap. But Suek once again came to the Ponies' rescue, as she pounded away a kill to give Havre game point, and sophomore Signe Hillson closed out the game with one of her two blocks at the net.
In Game 3, the Indians continued to apply pressure on the HHS offense, as Browning built a commanding 22-16 lead. But as she has done all season, Suek refused to let her team falter. She racked up five kills during an 8-0 run that got Havre back in the lead, before the Ponies finished the match off with some outstanding serving by senior Kelsey Evans.
"We didn't execute our offense as well in the second and third games," Huebsch said. "And Browning played much better than they did in the first game.
"It was a little disappointing to see us not capitalize on the momentum we had built in that first game," he added. "But I was very proud of how the kids finished the third game. We got way behind and we found a way to rise to the occasion and come all the way back."
Suek was once again the catalyst for Havre. She totaled 13 kills and three aces on the day. Carmen Neuens also hit well for Havre, adding seven kills. Solomon's fine outing included 11 digs and three aces. Evans led the Ponies in digs with 13.
"I thought a lot of kids played really well," Huebsch said. "Lena hit the ball extremely well and played great defensively. Alexa Lipp played very good all the way around, and Keelie and Kelsey both did a great job serving the ball."
Browning got a nice effort from Skunkcap. The senior had 12 kills, five blocks and six aces to pace the Indians.
Aside from its struggles in the second and third games, Huebsch was pleased to end the two-match weekend with another conference win, which kept Havre undefeated, and atop the Central A standings at 5-0.
"We didn't play as well as I would have liked at times," Huebsch said. "But every conference win is important, so we're happy to come away with another one."
Thursday night was not as kind to the Ponies in Cut Bank. The Wolves came out hot and Havre did not, according to Huebsch. The end result was a three-game, nonconference loss by scores of 25-15, 25-21 and 25-22.
"We just played really inconsistent in Cut Bank," Huebsch said. "They (Cut Bank) played great from start to finish and we didn't.
"We lost the battle of serve receive," he added. "Cut Bank did a great job of passing the ball and we did not pass the ball well at all. That was basically the difference in the match."
The Ponies were led in the loss by Suek and Hillson. Suek had six kills and 13 digs. Hillson also chipped in with six kills and two blocks.
Havre (10-3, 5-0) will now prepare to host Class AA C.M. Russell of Great Falls on Friday night at 7 p.m. The Ponies will then take to the road to face Great Falls High on Saturday afternoon.
Havre def. Browning
25-9, 26-24, 25-23
Browning - Kills 22 (Jenna Skunkcap 12), Blocks 8 (Skunkcap 5), Assists 22 (N. Higgins 17), Digs 13 (R. Ollinger 5), Aces 6 (Skunkcap 3).
Havre - Kills 35 (Lena Suek 13), Blocks 3 (Signe Hillson 2), Assists 32 (Alexa Lipp 32), Digs 51 (Kelsey Evans 13), Aces 11 (Suek 3, Keelie Solomon 3).
Cut Bank def. Havre
25-15, 25-21, 25-22
Havre - Kills 31 (Lena Suek 6, Signe Hillson 6, Carmen Neuens 6), Blocks 3 (Signe Hillson 2, Alexa Lipp 1), Assists 28 (Alexa Lipp 26), Digs 48 (Lena Suek 13, Keelie Solomon 13), Aces 5 (Karissa Olson 2, Keelie Solomon 2).
Cut Bank - Kills 32 (Stanchfield 11, Rice 10), Blocks 7 (Stanchfield 2, Sheble 2, Wilson 2), Assists 30 (Johnson 26), Digs 55 (Wilson 11), Aces 8 (Wilson 3).