The success rate was up and down for the Havre High volleyball team in its jam-packed season-opening weekend, but overall the consensus was a good one.
On Friday the Central A Blue Ponies were in Livingston where they faced the Belgrade Panthers and Livingston Rangers in conference play. HHS defeated the Panthers in five games. The Panthers defeated the Ponies in game one 25-17, but the Ponies bounced back and won games two and three by scores of 25-23 and 25-21. Belgrade stole game four 25-17 before the Ponies took game five 15-10. Also on Friday, the Rangers defeated the Ponies in four games (game scores unavailable).
And on Saturday, the Ponies remained in Livingston for the annual Windy City Classic, where they faced off against five more opponents in single games to 25. HHS was defeated 25-19 by Three Forks, defeated 25-14 by Townsend, defeated 25-18 by Lewistown and defeated 25-18 by Belgrade. The Ponies did however capture a win on Saturday, defeating Browning 25-8.
But despite the losses the Ponies suffered, head coach Melanie Skoyen was still impressed by her squad, and is still looking towards the future.
“We are where we need to be,” Skoyen said. “As far as individual athletes, I couldn’t be happier, they are such good kids and play very well together. I feel that we play like a true team and right now we have such a strong foundation. Their togetherness, teamwork and competitiveness show me that we have what it takes to be successful and we just need a lot more reps and a lot more touches. ”
The win against the Panthers was a true bright spot for the Ponies.
Belgrade is a tough team year in and year out, and the Ponies knew it would take a solid effort to get the win on the road. And while it took five games for the Ponies to achieve the win, that made it all the more impressive to coach Skoyen.
Havre dropped game one after coming out flat. The Ponies struggled in several areas, but their serve really hurt them. Skoyen said that her Ponies just didn’t look relaxed, and that it almost looked as if they were trying to hard in their first game out of the gate. But fortunately, the Ponies were able to bounce back after a slow start and eventually earn the conference win.
“We were definitely over anxious., Skoyen said. “Even our hitters, on over passes we were just so early and I think it was just jitters. It was our first game out, but we were able to recover.
“Game five alone,” Skoyen added. “For me, made the trip and the whole weekend worth it. In the two years that I have coached at Havre High I have never seen the Blue Ponies go out in a game five with such confidence and have so much control over the game. A lot of times teams will play not to lose in a game five, but I could tell they were ready to go out there and play. To se that we are capable of doing that was huge for us.”
Belgrade really pushed the Ponies to play well. They are a very good team all around and proved to be a challenge in each of the five games. The Panthers and Ponies were very evenly matched, and coach Skoyen looks for their second meeting in Havre to be just as competitive and come down to the wire once again.
In the match, Sammy Evans led the Ponies in aces with two. Sarah Armstrong led with eight of the teams 34 kills, while Evans, Juletta Don and Sadie Seidel all had six kills each. Payton Filius led the team with 18 of the teams 30 assists, and Davee McLeod added 10. Armstrong also led with three blocks, while Don added two. Brandy Lambourne had 28 of the teams 66 digs, and Seidel had 10.
Against the Rangers, the Ponies played well again, but just couldn’t come away with the conference win.
“It was a tough loss after I feel like we played our hearts out against Belgrade.” Skoyen said. “I don’t think we were physically tired, but more mentally fatigued. You could tell that we were still recuperating, but we did ok even though we lost in four.”
The Rangers are another very good team the Ponies will see again this season. They are very tall in the middle and play extremely smart. The Rangers’ middle would consistently hit around he Ponies’ block and find the open areas in the floor.
That also had some to do with the Pony defense not making the correct reads in enough time, but that is something that will come in time.
“I am confident that we will do much better the next time we play them,” Skoyen said. “I am not concerned with this loss right now, it’s early in the season and we still did a lot of good things right. I just see that we have room for improvement, but still pleased with how we played.”
Lambourne had another solid outing for the Ponies, earning 15 of the team's 37 digs. Evans had eight digs, but also led with nine of the teams 33 kills. Armstrong pitched in with seven kills of her own. Armstrong and Don also had one block each to lead the team. And McLeod had the teams only ace.
On Saturday the Ponies didn’t find much success in the win column, but they did earn a lot of much needed experience with a day filled with volleyball.
The Ponies earned just one win, defeating the Indians, but needed all the matches they could get this early in the season. A big reason for the Ponies struggles came from still adapting to using two new setters. Filius and McLeod took over the setting jobs this season, and are still getting the hang of things. HHS has quite a few hitting errors that cost them plenty of points over the five games.
“That really hurt us,” Skoyen said. “But still, there wasn’t one game that I felt disappointed after we finished. I still feel that we got better every game, even if it was just one area that improved. We never got down on ourselves and we are constantly doing the little things that turn into something big. I know our offense is going to come, it is just going to take some time. The girls are in the right mindset, and I see good things coming this season.”
The split on Friday gave the Ponies a 1-1 record overall as well as in conference. The Windy City Classic games did not count because they were one game each to 25.
And the Ponies will return to the court on Friday and Saturday for the Electric City Classic in Great Falls.
Havre def. Belgrade
17-25, 25-23, 25-21, 17-25, 15-10
Belgrade — Kills 35 (Morgan Wandler 9); Assists 33 9 (Jorden Proter 15); Aces 9 (Anna Orchard 4); Digs 46 (Jorden Porter 13); Blocks 6 (Jorden Porter 2).
Havre — Kills 34 (Sarah Armstrong 8, Sammy Evans 6, Juletta Don 6, Sadie Seidel 6); Assists 30 (Peyton Filias 18, Davee McLeod 10); Aces 3 (Sammy Evans 2, Brandy Lambourne 1); Digs 66 (Brandy Lanbourne 28, Sadie Seidel 10); Blocks 6 (Sarah Armstrong 3, Juletta Don 2.5).
Livingston def. Havre
(game scores not reported)
Livingston – Stats Not Available
Havre – Kills 33 (Sammy Evans 9, Sarah Armstrong 7); Blocks 4 (Sarah Armstrong 1, Juletta Don 1); Assists 28 (Payton Filius 15, Davee McLeod 12); Digs 37 (Brandy Lambourne 15, Sammy Evans 8); Aces 1 (Davee McLeod).
Saturday (Windy City Classic)
Three Forks def. Havre 25-19
Townsend def. Havre 25-14
Havre def. Browning 25-8
Lewistown def. Havre 25-18
Belgrade def. Havre 25-18
No Statistics Available