There were times during Thursday’s match where the Havre High volleyball team played its best volleyball of the season. But it was the times of struggle by the Blue Ponies which resulted in their loss.
Thursday night at the Havre High gymnasium, the No. 1 Lewistown Golden Eagles defeated the No. 2 Ponies in four games of Central A play. The Ponies took game one 26-24, but the Eagles won three straight by scores of 25-13, 25-17 and 26-24 to come away with the win.
“Havre is always a tough place to come and play,” Lewistown head coach Tara Taylor said. “Havre did some good things, they definitely improved since the last time we saw them. But we came in here knowing that a win would solidify first place seed for the divisional tournament and we knew the importance of that.”
The Ponies would have had a shot at the No. 1 spot in the conference if they would have been able to beet the Eagles in three games as well as win out the rest of their conference season.
In game one the Ponies showed what they are capable of when they play to their ability.
HHS fell behind early and trailed 12-6 before tying the game at 15-15. The Ponies fell behind again 23-19, but fought back once more to tie the game at 23-23. And continuing to play well, the Ponies earned the 26-24 win on a game ending, Sarah Armstrong kill.
But after such a positive step in game one, the Ponies took two steps back in games two and three.
The Eagles looked like the No. 1 team in the conference. They had the Ponies on their heals, and their hitters dominated both games with hard hit and accurate balls all over the floor.
“Lewistown is such a smart team,” Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. “They outsmarted us most of the match. They are so good about knowing what spot is open, and it takes us three or four times for them to burn us there before we can cover it. But then when we cover that spot, they are able to mix it up right away and go somewhere else. They just outsmart other teams.”
In game four the Ponies were back, and showed glimpses of their dominating side.
They got out to an 8-3 lead and maintained the momentum till they had a 17-10 lead. But the Eagles slowly chipped away at the lead. The margin was narrowed to 17-14 and eventually tied at 18-18 before the Eagles escaped with a 26-24 win. The Ponies also had six serving errors that helped the Eagles in key scoring streaks.
“I was upset it didn’t go to game five,” Skoyen said. “I think we deserved that. But for the most part I think we did get better tonight. For moments, this was probably the best we have played. But going into divisionals it is hard to beat team three times, so if we do see them again I think we will have the advantage.”
The Ponies now hold a 5-3 conference record while the Eagles improved to 8-1.
The Ponies had 30 total kills, with Paighton Gilman leading with 11 and Sammy Evans followed with nine. Gilman also led with five blocks and three aces.
Juletta Don had two blocks, and Sadie Seidel had 11 of the team's 49 digs. And Jaclyn Evans had 23 of the Ponies’ 25 assists, while Sammy Evans also had nine digs and two aces.
The Ponies will play again on Saturday at the Havre High gymnasium. The Ponies will host the Belgrade Panthers at 12:30 p.m. and the Livingston Rangers at 3:30 p.m. in two games of Central A play.
Lewistown def. Havre
24-26, 25-13, 25-17, 26-24
Havre — Kills 30 (Paighton Gilman 11, Sammy Evans 9); Blocks 8 (Paighton 5.5, Juletta Don 2); Assists 25 (Jaclyn Evans 23); Digs 49 (Sadie Seidel 11, Sammy Evans 9); Aces 7 (Paighton Gilman 3, Sammy Evans 2)
Lewistown — Kills 50 (Dayna Jensen 21, Amanda Monger 10); Blocks 4 (Dayna Jensen 3); Assists 44 (Allison Adams 41); Digs 85 (Dayna Jensen 18, Abby Gordon 15); Aces 14 (Dayna Jensen 7).