George Ferguson Havre Daily News sports editor email@example.com
It’s going to be a busy weekend for the Havre High volleyball team with a pair of conference matches on the slate to go along with the Ponies' traditional trip to the Windy City Classic. On Friday, the Ponies will participate in the two games with the most to gain, as they play back-toback games against Central A conference foes Belgrade and Livingston in Belgrade. Havre (1-0 overall, 1-0 conference) opened the season last weekend with an impressive sweep of Butte Central, and can take an early lead in the race for the Central A regular season title with a pair of victories on Friday night. “We are excited to go down and compete,” HHS head coach Bill Huebsch said. “We are hoping to have a good showing in the Windy City tournament on Saturday, but the two games we are really focusing on are the two conference games on Friday. Those are the two games that are really important to us and we are anxious to get down there and play.” When the Ponies take the floor against Livingston and Belgrade on Friday, they will have to be on their toes, because after both teams hired new head coaches in the offseason its hard to tell what to expect from either club. Livingston, who will play HHS at 4 p. m. also suffered some severe losses due to graduation in addition to the adjustment of a new coaching staff. Belgrade also suffered some key losses from last season, but will be led by returnees Brittney Harvey and Sadie Locken. The match between Belgrade and HHS will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Panthers eliminated the Ponies from the Central A divisional tournament, leaving the Ponies just short of a berth in the Class A state tournament last November. “I think that it's really hard to say what either team is going to be like,” Huebsch said. “Both teams are fairly young and they both have new head coaches, so it's difficult to predict what kind of teams they are going to be.” On Saturday, the Ponies will turn their attention to the Windy City Classic. Last year, Havre was knocked off in the semifinals after winning the tournament championship back in 2005. The field will be made up of 10 teams that have been split into two five-team pools. Joining Havre in Pool A will be Livingston, Manhattan Christian, Bridger and Townsend. Pool B will consist of Central A foes Butte Central, Belgrade, Browning and Lewistown as well as the Livingston JV squad. After pool play is over, the teams will move on to the single-elimination phase of the tournament. All of the teams qualify for single-elimination and will be seeded according to their record in pool play. HHS will open the tournament against Manhattan Christian at 9:30 a. m on Saturday, followed by Bridger at 11 a.m and Townsend at 12:30 p.m. Havre closes out pool play against Livingston at 1:30 pm. “We are looking forward to playing because it will give us a chance to get a look at the rest of the Central A teams and it will also give us a chance to gain some valuable game experience to improve in some of the areas that we need improvement,” Huebsch said. “So we are just going to keep working on improving our fundamentals and just compete.” Leading the charge for the Ponies this weekend will be Signe Hillson, who led the team with 11 kills and three blocks against Butte Central. Other key contributors will be setter Chelsea Harper, as well as hitters Mariah Armstrong, Steph Stremcha and Karla Hellegaard. “Again we really want to get both conference games on Friday,” Huebsch said. “But we also want to have a good showing on Saturday and I think that if the girls play the way they are capable, they will be happy with the end result.” Havre and Livingston will begin at 4 p.m on Friday with the match against Belgrade to follow at 6 p.m. Both matches will take place in Belgrade. The Windy City Classic will kickoff at 9:30 am on Saturday and will continue until late in the afternoon. All games will be played in Livingston.