Chris Peterson Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
No match the Havre High volleyball team has played so far this season will provide as stern a test as the Blue Ponies Central A conference showdown with Lewistown. The Ponies (9-3 overall, 4-0 conference) will travel to Lewistown tonight to renew their heated rivalry with the Eagles (8-1 overall, 1-0 conference) with first place in the Central A conference regular season standings on the line. “Well, it's definitely the biggest game of the season for us so far,” HHS head coach Bill Huebsch said. “In fact, it is just simply one of the biggest matches of the entire regular season. It is always an important match when these two teams get together and this time is not any different. The winner of this game will get a leg up in the race for the top seed at divisionals, so it's a very important match for both teams.” For years now, the Ponies and the Eagles have been the class of the Central A Conference. Two years ago, it was HHS that won the regular-season and divisional titles on the way to a second-place finish at state. However, last season it was the Eagles who captured the Central A divisional tournament, while Havre finished in third place, one spot short of a state tournament berth. This season, it seems pretty clear that Lewistown and Havre are far and away the two teams to beat in the conference, and the winner of this first-meeting will take the big first step towards gaining conference supremacy in 2007. “It's going to be a real challenge for us to go down there and find a way to beat them,” Huebsch said. “I think that talentwise, we are about on the same level as they are, so it's going to come down to which team executes better and which team makes the fewest mistakes.” The Ponies will be led in their midseason showdown with the Eagles by senior hitter Signe Hillson. Hillson has had a stellar campaign for the Ponies this season, as she has been the team leader in kills and blocks on numerous occasions. Other contributors for the Ponies include, setter Chelsea Harper, as well as defensive stopper Katie Mariani and outside hitters Mariah Armstrong and Hanna Wells. “We just need to go down there and execute,” Huebsch said. “We just have to go down there and hit the ball at a much higher percentage than we have been. I also think we need to do a better job of blocking the net, which will help our back row a lot defensively. The other important thing for us is going to be service and serve receive.. We have been very good serving the ball all season long, but they are very good serving the ball too. “I think that both teams are very even all around,” he added. “It is just going to come down to who makes the fewest mistakes and executes better. That will be the team that will be successful in the match.” The Eagles will also carry a number of talented players into tonight's contest led by Kate Manger, Josie Sweeney, Arielle Allen, Brianna Boegetter and Cassie Byerly. “They have a lot of very talented players,” Huebsch said. “And they can find a way to hurt you in a lot of different ways.” The Central A conference showdown will get under way approximately at 7 p. m. tonight in Lewistown. “To go down there and get a win on the road in Lewistown would be really important for our team and it would be a huge confidence boost.” Huebsch said. “I think that it would definitely make a big statement and it would give us a leg up in the conference race at this point in the season.” Havre will also be on the road on Saturday when the Ponies travel to Butte for a meeting with Butte Central.