Daniel Horton Havre Daily News firstname.lastname@example.org
The Havre High volleyball team is in the heart of its season. And with a tough conference and an even tougher nonconference opponent waiting in the wings, the Blue Ponies have their work cut out for them. This weekend, the Central A Ponies (8-2, 4-0) have two challenging matches on the road. First they will face the conference opponent Browning Indians on Friday, then the Class AA CMR Rustlers on Saturday. It will be the first meeting of the season between the Ponies and Indians, but the Ponies aren’t completely in the dark. Havre High head coach Melanie Walker had a chance to scout the Indians earlier this season at the Windy City Classic. And what Walker saw was a very scrappy team that fights extremely hard to score points. And the fact the Indians have the same head coach for the second consecutive season, something that hasn’t happened in a number of years, has also boosted their play this season. “I know that having that consistency with a coach has made them a better team than they have been in the past,” Walker said. “We have to be ready for everything coming over the net.” It won’t be an easy match for the Ponies by any means. And they aren’t expecting the Indians to roll over without a fight. The Indians have already beaten Butte Central this season and will now have their sights set on the Ponies. But the Ponies main focus in practice has been the Rustlers. So facing the Indians, Walker plans to run a number of different rotations and lineups, utilizing as many HHS players as she can. “I don’t want to wear anybody out,” Walker said. “I want everybody to get playing time so that no one is too tired, we have a huge match against CMR.” Unlike the Indians, the Rustlers do present themselves as a mystery opponent to the Ponies. Besides the fact that the Rustlers are consistently tough, Walker and the Ponies are relatively in the dark. The Rustlers did take Billing Senior to five games and that says a lot for their program. It says the Ponies can expect a tough matchup from a disciplined team stacked with talent. “That just shows they were either pumped up to play, or they have a lot of talent,” Walker said. “I am really excited to see how we match up against CMR. I think that is going to be a very good match to watch.” Practice this past week hasn’t been the best for the Ponies. It has been hectic and lacked the usually high level of focus and concentration. But the Ponies still believe they have what it takes to come out of the weekend with two more wins. “It’s been a very difficult week,” Walker said. “And I hope that this weekend just shows how mentally tough we are.” To be successful in both matches this weekend, the Ponies need a solid team effort. But they will also need good performances from a couple of individuals. Courtney Kinholt will be absent this weekend due to scheduling conflicts with the HHS golf team. And with her gone, Kelli Kelsey will have to step up and take over as an outside hitter. And with Kelsey moving to the front row, Mary Kaercher is going to have to have a good couple of matches in the back. She will need to do well not only at serve-receive, but also all around defense. “I am really looking for Kelli (Kelsey) to step up as an outside hitter. We need another strong hitter up there, and hopefully she will be able to step up in both matches. And Mary (Kaercher) is really going to have to focus and get the job done on defense.” The Ponies have played well in recent weeks and hope to continue that high level of performance. They have had a rough week of practice, but are still prepared to take care of business on the road. On Friday the Ponies will face the Indians on the road before continuing their road trip and taking on the Rustlers on Saturday in Great Falls.