Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
With plenty of regular season left to go, a packed home crowd and a playoff- type atmosphere for volleyball was the scene this weekend at the Havre High gymnasium. On Friday night, the Havre High volleyball team was hosting the CMR volleyball team, where the Blue Ponies lost to the Rustlers in five games. Havre lost 18-25, won 25-19, lost 22-25, won 25-21, and lost 13-15 in the decisive fifth game. Even though the Ponies’ record was, and still is, better than the Rustlers, both teams knew that it was going to be a tough night of competition. The record for the Rustlers doesn’t show their talent and athleticism, because of the tough Eastern AA division they are in. “They have good athletes and know how to play the game.” Havre High head coach Bill Huebsch said. “No matter what their record was, we knew it wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.” Neither team had it easy. Every game was a battle, and nobody gave up. They both hit the ball well, and prevented each other from getting large runs of points. Both sides played extremely good defense, and each match went point for point before a winner was decided. “I was very impressed with Havre and their defense especially.” CMR head coach Paula Olsen said. “I know the reputation of Havre volleyball, they come to play all the time.” The Rustlers were impressed with the Ponies' play, but the Rustlers were also impressive. They had 53 kills, and Jessie Morin had 27 of their 76 digs. If the Ponies were going to be successful, they were going to have to play consistently, have good ball control, better blocking and better defense behind the block as well. But unfortunately they did all that and still came up a little short. “I thought we played pretty well.” Huebsch said. “And it was probably the best defensive match we’ve played all year.” Karla Hellegaard had four blocks, and Mary Kaercher, had three adding to the Ponies nine total blocks. And both Janelle Job and Hayley Donovan contributed 13 digs each. Also having a strong defensive match was Holly Cartwright. “I thought they had a great match.” Huebsch said. “Defensively they kept us in games and played outstanding. I can’t say enough about those girls, they showed what they are capable of doing defensively on the floor.” In the two games the Ponies won, there were a lot of positive aspects to their play. They didn’t make as many errors towards the end of the games, and their ball control was outstanding. Sarah Blessum had all of the 27 assists for the Ponies, and Hellegaard had 13 kills while Mariah Armstrong added seven kills of her own. Also, Job had three of the seven Pony aces. “They never gave up on any ball, and I think they played their hearts out.” Huebsch said. “I don’t like to lose, they don’t like to lose, but I can accept those kinds of losses. When the kids are giving their best effort, you can’t ask for anymore than that.” And it was evident that the Ponies were playing extremely hard in every game. It was their best match of the season and they made a lot of improvements. With both the Ponies and the Rustlers playing so well, errors and momentum seemed to magnify in their effect on the match. Especially in game five, the closest game of the night. The match was tied at 13-13, and it could have gone either way. Both teams were equally matched and the Ponies made two hitting errors at the end of the game that cost them the game and the match. “You just have to limit your errors.” Huebsch said. “And we ended up making more than them at the end, it’s that simple.” A loss is never what a team wants, but in this case, things could have been a lot worse. The Ponies played excellent volleyball all around, and took some positive steps towards the postseason. What was also good to see was how the Ponies didn’t let a tough loss affect their play on Saturday. Playing again at the Havre High gymnasium, the Ponies were taking on the Browning Indians in a Central A match. But this time, the Ponies had better results as they went on to sweep the Indians in three games by scores of 25-17, 25-12 and 25-19. Although the Ponies were fatigued from Friday’s match, they were still able to come out and concentrate on what was important. “I thought we did a good job of staying focused on what we were trying to get done today.” Huebsch said. “Get the conference win and move on.” And the Ponies did just that. They dominated for the majority of the match, and were very consistent. They had good ball control and served tough. The Ponies had five aces, and Blessum and Job each had two. Donovan led with nine kills while Hellegaard contributed eight of the 36 for the match. And having another great defensive match for the Ponies was Cartwright with 11 digs. The Indians strongest part of play was their defense and serving. They didn’t run much of an offense, and they pushed the ball over the net without much force. They only had 19 kills, but made up for it with four aces and 64 digs. “Browning came out and served tough.” Huebsch said. “And they broke us down on serve-receive a couple times.” Overall, the Ponies had a good weekend of volleyball. They may have only won one of their two matches, but they improved to 10-5 overall and 4-2 in the conference. HHS will take a break from competition. The Ponies won't be back in action until Oct. 24 when they travel to Browning.