Havre Daily News Sports
The Havre High volleyball team is about to embark on a very interesting portion of its 2005 schedule. For the next three weeks, the Blue Ponies will only have one match per week, starting this Saturday with a trip to Central A conference rival Browning.
Saturday's game isn't the only news that is good surrounding the HHS volleyball team right now.
Earlier this week, HHS veteran head coach Bill Huebsch learned that his 2004-05 team, which consisted of everybody on this year's roster, was honored with the Game Plan/American Volleyball Coaches Association Team Academic Excellence Award.
The award is give to high school and collegiate volleyball teams that maintain at least a 3.3 average grade point average.
The Ponies were one of only 120 high school girls teams in the U.S. that were given the award and one of 276 schools overall that received the prestigious award. Only three other schools in Montana qualified for the honor.
"It is a very nice honor," Huebsch said of the award. "This award shows that we have not only a great group of talented players on this team, but we have kids who realize how important it is to excel in the classroom."
The HHS volleyball team isn't just excelling in the classroom this season. The Ponies are off to a blistering start this season and they are coming off of a more-than-solid fifth-place finish at the Electric City Invitational in Great Falls last weekend. During that tournament, the Ponies thoroughly handled Browning in pool play.
"When we played Browning in Great Falls, we really took them out of their offense early," Huebsch said. "We really hurt them with our serve. It is something we have been doing very well all season."
Still, the Indians are never a team that Huebsch allows his squad to take lightly, especially with standout senior Jenna Skunkcap on the floor.
Skunkcap is one of the top overall athletes in the Central A conference and Huebsch said that as she goes so do the Indians.
"Containing Skunkcap is key to our success against Browning," he said. "She is a tremendous athlete and they go to her on offense whether she is in the back row or at the net.
"When she gets hot they are a whole different team," he added.
Of course, the Blue Ponies are entirely different team this season as well. Havre hasn't dropped more than a handful of games in the early going, thanks in large part to the play of junior Lena Suek.
Of Havre's statistical leaders, Suek already has an astounding 106 digs and 125 kills this year.
"Lena is just playing great volleyball right now," Huebsch said. "Our entire team is really playing great defense and that is making a huge difference. We already have 500 digs as a team this season, which is just incredible."
Havre is also getting top-notch output from the likes of seniors Alexa Lipp and Liz Handy.
Lipp already has 302 assists this season and Handy leads the team with 20 aces. Sophomore Signe Hillson leads the way with 13 solo blocks and senior Sjanettee D'Hooge has 12.
"I am more than pleased with how we are playing as a team right now," Huebsch said. "A road trip to Browning is always a tough test for us. Hopefully we'll go down there and continue to play well."
The Central A conference match between Browning and Havre High is scheduled to get under way at 5 p.m. in Browning. The Ponies will be back in action next Thursday when they travel to Class B Fort Benton.