Havre Daily News Sports Writer
The Havre Blue Ponies were destined to beat the Lewistown Eagles. After all, it was senior night for the Ponies, and when Havre and Lewistown met earlier in the season, Havre not only defeated the Eagles, the Ponies swept them.
Coming into Friday's match, there was a feeling that this was Havre's time.
There was only one problem: Someone forgot to tell the Eagles.
On an emotional Friday night at the HHS gymnasium, the Lewistown Eagles downed the Havre Blue Pony volleyball team in a heartbreaking defeat.
After being down two games to none, the Blue Ponies fought back and tied the match at two games apiece, and managed to get to a 13-13 tie in the fifth game. That's when Katie d'Autremont took over. She had put the Eagles on her back the entire game, and when it mattered most, the Ponies had no answer for her. She scored the final two points of the match to give Lewistown a dramatic five-game victory by scores of 25-21, 25-21, 17-25, 21-25 and 15-13.
Havre got off to a slow start in the match. The Ponies got out to an early 9-6 lead in game one, but couldn't hold the lead, and a late five-point run by the Eagles ended the first game.
Game two was all Lewistown, as the Eagles jumped out an 8-4 lead. Despite a rally by the Ponies that tied the game at 15 apiece, the Eagles pulled away late and took a commanding two-game lead.
“We got off to a slow start,” said HHS head coach Bill Huebsch. “When you play a team like Lewistown, you need to come out and match their energy level, and tonight we didn't do that.”
Facing a two-game deficit it would have been easy for the Ponies to fold, but they did the exact opposite. Led by junior Lena Suek, they played their way back and extended the match to a fourth game.
With the momentum clearly shifting to Havre's side, the Ponies rode an 11-3 start to a victory in game four.
“Our kids came back and fought hard,” Huebsch said.
However, in the fifth and final game, there were too many mistakes and too much Katie d'Autremont for the Ponies to overcome.
“We couldn't carry the momentum over to the fifth game,” Huebsch said. “We got up 10-8, but we didn't execute down the stretch. It came down to fundamentals and being in the right place at the right time.”
Lena Suek led the way for the Ponies with 16 kills, three aces, and tied with Karissa Olson with 22 digs. Alex Lipp had 43 assists, and Signe Hillson pitched in with three blocks.
As for the seniors, all contributed in one way or another for the Ponies, and Huebsch was pleased with their play. “Liz Handy and Sjanetee D'Hooge both hit the ball well tonight. Kelsey Evans, Cammie West and Keelie Solomon all contributed with solid defense, and Alexa Lipp had an all-around solid match,” he said.
For the Eagles, d'Autremont led with 19 kills and six aces. They also got contributions from Lyndsi Bayless with four blocks, Heidi Rettig with 21 digs, and Ashley Boettger with 39 assists.
Despite the heartbreaking loss to Lewistown, the Ponies rebounded Saturday in Browning with victories over both Belgrade and Livingston.
Havre swept Livingston by the scores of 25-11, 29-27 and 25-18. The Ponies were led by Suek with 11 kills, 11 digs and one block, and tied Olson with three aces. Lipp led the Ponies with 23 assists.
The Ponies then went on to beat Belgrade in four games by the scores of 16-25, 25-22, 25-20 and 25-21. The Ponies were led by Suek with 12 kills and three aces. Olson added nine digs. Lipp pitched in with 31 assists, and Hillson and Handy contributed with twp blocks apiece.
Saturday's victories over Belgrade and Livingston clinched the Central A regular-season championship for the Ponies with a 9-1 conference record.
Havre will now prepare to host the 2005 Central A divisional tournament. The tournament is set to get under way Friday morning at the HHS gymnasium.
Lewistown def. Havre
25-21, 25-21, 18-25, 25-21, 15-13
Havre - Kills 51 ( Lena Suek 16, Liz Handy 9), Blocks 9 ( Signe Hillson 3), Assists 45 ( Alexa Lipp 43), Digs 121( Karissa Olson and Len Suek 22), Aces 7 ( Lena Suek 3).
Lewistown - Kills 42 ( Katie d' Autremont 19), Blocks 10 ( Lyndsi Bayless 4), Assists 40 ( Ashley Boettger 39), Digs 116 ( Heidi Rettig 21), Aces 11 (Katie d' Autremont 6).
Havre def Livingston
25-11, 29-27, 25-18
Havre - Kills 35 (Lena Suek 11), Blocks 5 (Lena Suek 1), Assists 25 (Alexa Lipp 23), Digs 30 (Lena Suek 11), Aces 9 (Lena Suek and Karissa Olson 3).
Livingston - Kills 22 (Nicole Hardy 6), Blocks 4 (Nicole Hardy 2), Assists 19 (Nicole Hardy 17), Digs 44 (Sage Indendi 12), Aces 7 (Lindsey Reimer and Brianna Ackerman 3).
Havre def Belgrade
16-25, 25-22, 25-20. 25-21
Havre - Kills 43 (Lena Suek 12), Blocks 9 (Signe Hillson and Liz Handy 2), Assists 34 (Alexa Lipp 31), Digs 39 (Karissa Olson 9), Aces 9 (Lena Suek 3).
Belgrade - Kills 35 (Jessica Harper 14), Blocks 8 (Jessica Harper 5), Assists 31 (Nicia Knuchel 24) Digs 70 (Megan Knuchel 15), Aces 1 (Niclia Knuchel).