The time has finally come for the Havre High volleyball program to see just how much it has improved from last season’s performances.
This weekend the Central A Blue Ponies will get the 2011 season underway on the road. Today HHS will face two conference opponents in Belgrade. The Ponies will face the Belgrade Panthers as well as the Livingston Rangers. On Saturday, the Ponies will stay on the road to take part in the Windy City Classic in Livingston. While at the Windy City Classic the Ponies will have a pool filled with talent, but look forward to facing another conference opponent in the Lewistown Golden Eagles most.
“We are very excited to play,” Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. “The girls are very enthusiastic about it. It is one of those things that the girls were saying they wished it was already here yesterday (Tuesday).”
Heading into the weekend the Ponies still have some aspects of their game to improve upon. Right now their passing isn’t quite where it needs to be, nor is their serve-receive. Serve-receive was something the Ponies struggled with early on a season ago, but improved immensely as the season marched on.
“We are still going to struggle with passing,” Skoyen said. “But it will get better as the season goes on and we really want to perfect that.”
And for their serve-receive, the Ponies used a three-man serve-receive last season.
“I am not really worried right now,” Skoyen said. “It isn’t what we do right now, but more what we do later in the season that counts. Even if we struggle now, I would rather work on perfecting it now for the end of the season.”
Last season the Ponies split with the Panthers during the conference schedule. But the biggest memory the Ponies have of the Panthers are when they knocked HHS out of the divisional tournament in a close five games. And for the Rangers, the Ponies split with them as well during the conference schedule. And while it will be a tough start to the season, the Ponies know exactly what they have to find success against both
“It is kind of hard playing them both right off the bat,” Skoyen said. “To have two conference games like this back to back is just how the schedule works and we are going to make the most of it. But it is going to be good to see where we stand and see where we stack up in our conference. I believe we have the toughest conference in the Class A and this is going to put us up against some good players.
“Against Belgrade we have to make sure we are playing as a team,” Skoyen added. “They just play very well as a team and that is what it takes to be successful, and we have to do the same thing. Against Livingston we have to serve tough and look for their weaknesses in their server receive and take advantage there.”
The Panthers’ Jordan Porter will challenge the Ponies, as a very solid all around player. She can lineup in any position, and can be very effective as an outside hitter, setter or middle.
On Saturday the Ponies are focusing on the Eagles.
Lewistown is somewhat of a mystery this season. They lost a lot of key players after earning a Class A state title a season ago, but the Ponies just don’t know what to expect going in. But after the Eagles swept HHS last year, they do know they are still up against what promises to be a very tough conference opponent.
“It is going to be nice to see them and see who they have this year,” Skoyen said. “They are a team that lost a lot of players and they are going to look like a new team. But I just want to continue to teach our program that we can’t have a mental block when it comes to facing Lewistown, we can’t do that anymore. I think playing them in tournaments is nice because it is a more relaxed setting.”
With the leadership and skills of seniors Juletta Don and Sammy Evans, the Ponies have a solid team this season. And with other key components such as Lexi Olson and Sadie Seidel, both hard outside hitters, and Sarah Armstrong and Kaylie Gilman filling up the middle, and setter Davee McLeod, the Ponies should also have success this weekend.
Today in Belgrade the Ponies will face Belgrade and Livingston in concerence play. And on Saturday the Ponies will travel to Livingston to take on the more tough talent in the Windy City Classic.