The Havre High volleyball team has yet to play at home this season, and hasn’t faced a conference opponent since the first two matches of the season. And now with a lot of volleyball under their belts, the Blue Ponies will do both this weekend.
Tonight, the Central A Ponies will be in Lewistown where they will face the conference rival Golden Eagles. And Saturday the Ponies will host the 1B Choteau Bulldogs at the Havre High gymnasium in their home debut. HHS is 1-1 in conference play and 1-5 overall.
“We are excited to play Lewistown,” Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. “There is always that rivalry between Lewistown and us, and we are definitely entering as the underdog. But I also know that Lewistown is beatable.
“And playing at home is going to be so nice,” Skoyen added. “We won’t have to get on a bus and travel all day, and we get to sleep in our own beds. It should be good, and I know that in the past we have been able to pack the gym, and we always appreciate the fans we get to play in front of. It means a lot for our team, especially since we only have four home games besides divisionals this year.”
The Ponies are considered the underdogs because of the Eagles’ experience. The Eagles have 10 seniors on the roster this year and are proven to be a smart team. They limit their errors very well, and if they do slip up, they are very quick to regroup and recover. Another strength for the Eagles, is that they don’t allow teams to go on many runs.
But with all of the growing the young Ponies have done this season, they know the Eagles are beatable. HHS defeated Belgrade in five games in their first match of the season, and it also took the Eagles to defeat Belgrade this season.
“That is the great thing about volleyball,” Skoyen said. “Anything can happen. I am confident when we play Lewistown, I think we are both good teams, and it should be a good match.”
One thing the Ponies are going to have to do different against Lewistown is take away the line. The Eagles will either take away the line with their block, or rotate Brandy Lambourne, the teams’ libero, over to line. The Eagles have smart hitters who aren’t very tall. They like to place their hits, and love the line because it is so wide open at the high school level Skoyen said. It is such a hard hit to do well, that is why so many teams leave it open and cover other areas of the floor Skoyen added.
But Lambourne has played well this season, and Skoyen is confident in her skills.
“I know she can dig them,” Skoyen said. “She is a great player and she is really getting mart about reading where the hit is going. If we can get her to rotate over I think that will help us out a lot.”
Choteau is somewhat of a mystery to the Ponies.
Skoyen doesn’t know the specifics, but the Bulldogs are a year in and year out solid program. They are always well coached and play disciplined, fundamental volleyball. And while they come from the Class B, they can’t be overlooked as they have proven to be a decent squad at hitting their different angles and pushing quality shots over the opposing block.
Juletta Don and Sarah Armstrong should do well as the Ponies middles, and Sammy Evans, Lexi Olson and Sadie Seidel should look to hit well this weekend, especially with the rapid improvement by Peyton Filius, the Ponies setter.
In both matches this weekend, the Ponies will also look to run their new and improved offense. HHS ran a quick offense last weekend, and it turned out to be nice addition to routine and could play a factor again this weekend.
“I really feel like running that helped out our offense a lot,” Skoyen said. “But I also know you can tell we are brand new running it. If we can keep improving with our quick hitting and use it this weekend, it should give us a huge advantage.”
Tonight, the Ponies will face the Golden Eagles in Lewistown in conference play, and will return to Havre on Saturday to host the Choteau Bulldogs at 12:30 p.m.