Havre Daily News Sports
The Havre High volleyball team may only have one match under its belt on the young season, but it was a positive match. The Ponies opened the 2005 campaign with a resounding win over Central A rival Butte Central last Saturday in Havre.
Now the Ponies take to the road for a stretch that will keep them away from the Havre High gymnasium for the entire month of September.
That long road trip begins Friday night in Belgrade with an all important Central A match with the upstart Belgrade Panthers. On Saturday, HHS will participate in the always difficult Windy City Classic in Livingston.
Friday's match with Belgrade will feature what HHS veteran head coach Bill Huebsch considers the top two teams in the Central A this season. What isn't determined yet is which one of those teams is the clear-cut favorite for the Central A title.
"Belgrade returns some phenomenal athletes from a team that was very young last year," Huebsch said. "They are a team that should be very tough to beat because of the talent and the size that they have. And they are also very well coached.
"That first match we play against them on the road will be a difficult one," he added. "But it will be a match that will tell us a lot about where we are as a team and where we need to get to for later in the season."
Of course, the Ponies are already looking very sharp after their 25-20, 25-20, 25-11 win over Butte Central on Saturday.
Havre overcame a sluggish start to pull away from the Maroons. It was a solid team effort with seven different players racking up kills, led by Lena Suek's 14. Setter Alexa Lipp appeared to make another run at all-conference honors, while the Ponies showed plenty of scrappiness defensively.
Havre takes that 1-0 conference mark not only to Belgrade on Friday, but to Livingston on Saturday where they will participate in the prestigious Windy City Classic. The tournament features most of the Central A conference as well as other area Class A schools and several local Class B squads.
This is a tournament that Havre has been up and down in in the past, including an inconsistent showing last year. Still, this particular road trip is always a good early season test for any Havre High team and it is certain to be for this Blue Pony squad.
"Our schedule is always very tough every year," Huebsch said. "Especially at the beginning of the season, where we go down to the Windy City Classic and then to the Electric City Invitational in Great Falls.
"Those have always been two really tough tournaments back to back and they will be again this season," Huebsch added. "We haven't always had a lot of success in Livingston in the past. But that is one of the things that is special about this team. They have a lot of goals early for this year and playing well early in the season is one of them. So we're hoping for a really good showing in Livingston."
Havre will begin pool play Saturday morning with a round-robin format. How the Ponies fare in those four matches will determine where they will fall in the tournament, which is scheduled to get under way in the afternoon.
Friday's match with Belgrade will get under way at 5 p.m. at the Belgrade Special Events Center. Pool play at the Windy City Classic in Livingston will start at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.