Daniel Horton Havre Daily News email@example.com
Still struggling with injury, and not quite back to 100 percent, the Havre High volleyball team knows it will have its hands full with this weekend’s tournament. On Friday and Saturday, the Blue Ponies will attend the Electric City Classic volleyball tournament in Great Falls. While action begins at 10 a.m. on both days, Friday’s play will determine the Ponies' seeding for Saturday. The teams the Ponies will face are going to be extremely tough. With squads like Missoula Hellgate, Great Falls High, Bozeman, Helena Capital and Butte High in the mix, this weekend will present itself as a great challenge to the Ponies. But with no conference opponents in sight, this weekend isn’t all about winning it’s about getting better. “I am not going to measure success by how many wins we get,” Havre High head coach Melanie Walker said. “Yes, I want to win, but this is a tournament where we are definitely going to be the underdog. If we find that we are able to hit against girls like this and not get blocked, it’s just going to make us that much better for conference and divisionals.” The individual and team talent the Ponies will face is strong all they way across the board. No matter the opponent, the Ponies are going to have to raise their level of play to compete. And in preparation, HHS has kept the focus on a few areas of play. They know the girls are going to be big and athletic, so hopefully their preparation of hitting against two and three blockers in practice will emerge into game time situations. Executing set plays has also been in the Ponies' practice regiment. It has become a vital part of their play in recent matches, and should continue to do so now. “Those blockers are going to be quicker,” Walker said. “And if we don’t run these (set plays) properly they are going to stop us every time.” If the Ponies are going to compete with some of the Class AA powerhouse squads they will run into, they need to keep their level of play at a high level. They need to strive to get better, and they can’t worry about the score. When they play every point like it’s game point, Walker sees just how talented her girls are and have the potential to be. “Whenever we practice that way,” Walker said. “They play so much harder. They don’t want anything to hit the floor. If we can play like that from point one, the intensity will be so much better the entire match.” Having the entire Pony squad healthy would make a considerable difference, but the Ponies aren’t quite there just yet. Hayley Donovan and Cali Freier return, but Mary Kaercher is still questionable after an ankle injury. And now Jaclyn Evans, who was brought up from junior varsity to help fill the gaps will not make the trip after coming down with an illness. The Ponies deep and talented roster has kept them in contention in recent weeks, and will have to do so again. They have the personnel to do very well this weekend, it just depends on if they can consistently keep their play at a high level. “This weekend our level of play has to be extremely high,” Walker said. “We are going to have to step up to compete with these teams, and I know I can count on them to step to a higher caliber.” The Ponies are in Great Falls for the Electric City Classic on Friday and Saturday. Play begins on both days at 10 a.m.