Havre Daily News Sports
Momentum can be a huge factor when it comes to high school sports, particularly volleyball. To say that the Havre High volleyball team is building momentum early this season would be a massive understatement. After a near perfect second weekend of the Class A volleyball season, the Ponies are no longer building momentum, they're swimming in it.
Havre opened its weekend Friday night with pair of big Central A wins in Belgrade. The Ponies put a three-game thrashing of conference rival Belgrade on the its home floor and then followed it up a with another three-game win over Livingston.
On Saturday, the Ponies dropped on game in six matches on their way to easily capturing the championship at the Windy City Invitational in Livingston.
It is the first time that the Ponies have won the Livingston tournament since they captured the 1999 Class A state championship. While veteran HHS head coach Bill Huebsch isn't prognosticating another state title this early in the season, he said that the weekend his team had is nothing short of amazing.
"It was just so much fun to watch," Huebsch said of his team's play. "Every player on this team played well all weekend. Everything just seemed to go right for us, and everything we were trying to accomplish just clicked.
"This start we're off to is huge for our teams confidence, because most of these team's we're beating are teams we're going to have to play again later in the season. Our kids are just so excited about how they are playing right now. They just have a ton of confidence."
Although winning the Windy City Classic was a nice way to cap off the weekend, Huebsch emphasized Havre's conference wins, particularly the one over Belgrade on Friday night as being a little more important.
"That was a really big win for us from a conference standpoint and a confidence standpoint," he said. "Everybody was picking Belgrade to be one of the teams to beat in our conference this year and we handled them pretty easily."
The Ponies used a 27-17 first game win to propel them to a victory that was predicted to be much more difficult than it turned out to be.
"We just played so well right away in that match and it continued throughout the match," he said.
The Ponies posted a 25-22 win in the second game and sealed the match with a 25-19 win in the third.
While Huebsch wasn't surprised with how his team played, he was a little surprised at how well it controlled a tall, intimidating Belgrade squad on its home floor.
"All of our kids were outstanding in that match and everyone did their job," he said. "We served the ball extremely well and that took Belgrade's hitters out of what they wanted to do offensively. They could never get going against us."
Junior Lena Suek paved the way for the Ponies with 12 kills. She also picked up 13 digs. Keelie Solomon added seven kills on the night, and Alexa Lipp had 38 assists.
The Ponies moved to 3-0 in Central A play with a 25-13, 25-15, 25-16 win over Livingston. Havre cruised throughout the match as Lipp had 25 assists and Kelsey Evans had nine digs in the win.
Havre carried over that momentum into Saturday's pool play in Livingston.
The Ponies wrapped up easy victories over Browning and Manhatten Christian and then knocked off Belgrade again to earn the top seed in the tournament later in the day.
Havre opened up single-elimination tournament play with a 25-14, 25-22 win over conference foe Butte Central. Suek had eight kills, while Signe Hillson had seven kills and two blocks. Solomon added seven digs and a pair of aces. Havre knocked off Manhatten Christian for the second time on the day to earn a spot in the championship match. Suek was solid once again with six kills and six digs. Lipp added 17 assists and four aces.
In the championship match, the Ponies dropped their first game of the season to a Townsend team that knocked them out of the Windy City Classic last year. Still, Havre prevailed in the match by scores of 25-16, 23-25 and 15-9.
Suek banged out 15 kills and Lipp had 29 assists and eight digs. Karissa Olson chipped in with eight digs in the match.
"We played nearly flawless on Saturday and the kids were still disappointed that we dropped that game to Townsend," Huebsch said. "That says a lot about the attitude of this team right now.
"Townsend is a very good team and they will be one of the top teams in Class B this season," he added. "They beat us pretty easily last year, so this was a really good win for our team. It is just another one of those things that will give our kids a ton of confidence."
Statistics often say a lot about how a team is playing, but Huebsch admitted that it is tough to single out any of his players that played better than anyone else this weekend.
"I can't say enough about all of our kids and the job they did this weekend," he said. "Lena Suek was dominating hitting the ball and Keelie Solomon passed the ball better than she ever has. Liz Handy served the ball extremely well and Sjantee D'Hooge and Signe Hilson played so well at the net. Karissa Olson is another one who just played tremendously well this weekend as did our entire team."
The Ponies will now have to face a much more difficult test when they head to the premier volleyball tournament in the state this weekend in Great Falls. Huebsch believes that his team is still very focused on getting better each week.
"These kids are excited about how they played this weekend, but they also know we have to get better," he said. "There are plenty of things to improve on and they are already working hard on being better for this week."
Havre High will be back in action Friday morning when they begin pool play at the Electric City Invitational in Great Falls. The two-day tournament will conclude Saturday afternoon.
Havre def. Belgrade
25-17, 25-22, 25-19
Havre - Kills 36 (Lena Suek 12, Keelie Solomon 7); Blocks 4 (Sjanetee D'Hooge 2); Assists 30 (Alexa Lipp 28); Digs 40 (Suek 13, Kelsey Evans 9); Aces 5 (Liz Handy 2).
Belgrade - Kills 27 (Jessica Harper 9, Brailey Williams7); Blocks 2 (Williams 2); Assists 27 (Jessie Greary 13, Nicia Knuchii 11); Digs 41 (Jillian Hoblitt 8, Jessica Rallistad 7); aces 4 (Hoblitt 2, Greary 1).
Havre def. Livingston
25-13, 25-15, 25-16:
No individual stats available
Windy City Classic
Livingston def. Billings Senior JV 25-23
Fergus def. Butte Central 25-10
Townsend def. Livingston 25-7
Billings Senior JV def. Fergus 25-17
Townsend def. Butte Central 25-17
Fergus def. Livingston 25-15
Townsend def. Billings Senior JV 25-15
Livingston def. Butte Central 25-15
Townsend def. Fergus 25-16
Butte Central def. Billings Senior JV 25-17
Havre def. Browning 25-12
Belgrade def. MCHS 25-20
Browning def. Bridger 25-23
Havre def. MCHS 25-13
Belgrade def. Bridger 25-13
MCHS def. Browning 25-18
Belgrade def. Browning 25-18
MCHS def. Bridger 25-12
Havre def. Belgrade 25-18
Browning def. Billings Senior JV 26-24, 20-25, 15-12
Townsend def. Browning 25-11, 25-14
Belgrade def. Livingston 18-25, 25-18, 15-11
Havre def Butte Central 25-14, 25-22
Havre def. Manhatten Christian 25-13, 25-21
Havre def. Townsend 25-16, 23-25, 15-9.