With just one match awaiting the Havre High volleyball team this weekend, and with the divisional tournament coming up fast, the Blue Ponies are looking to mix things up moving forward.
On Saturday the Central A Ponies (2-8) will face the Choteau Bulldogs for the second time this season. This time around the Ponies will face the Bulldogs in Choteau, hoping to rebound from the loss in four games at the Havre High gymnasium just three matches ago. The Bulldogs defeated the Ponies by scores of 25-15, 23-25, 25-18 and 26-24.
The last time the Ponies faced off against the Bulldogs, the Ponies youthfulness showed as they took on a much more experienced team. The Bulldgos have five seniors and six juniors on the squad this season and it shows, as Choteau is a very loud, competitive and aggressive team in their hitting, serving and defense.
HHS got off to its slowest start of the season against the Bulldogs in their first meeting, and the Ponies have to avoid a start like that on Saturday. And if the Ponies hope to redeem themselves, they also have to clean up their costly mistakes against a team that will take full advantage.
“It hasn’t been a long time since we played Choteau,” Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. “But we have changed some things around. And we are getting more comfortable in our positions and just more consistent all around, even though we have played just two matches since we saw Choteau.
“And we are still getting ready for divisionals,” Skoyen added “And it doesn’t really matter how we get seeded for divisionals either because I think it is so even and level. We just have to make sure we are fine tuning things, getting more consistent and building more confidence before we go into divisionals.”
One change the Ponies have made in preparation for this weekend is their patience. The Ponies have a tendency to play rushed and impatient when they fall behind. They panic when the opposition goes on a small scoring run, and the Ponies unnecessary mistakes then turn the small run into a costly larger one.
Havre is also looking to change up their offensive formation. All season long the Ponies were playing with two setters, Davee MacLeod and Peyton Filius, but after really showing the ability to connect with the hitters, Filius will be the sole setter moving forward. This move is key for the Ponies setting, but also improves their serve receive and defense with MacLeod now on other parts of the floor.
“Peyton Filius is doing a wonderful job setting and the hitters are connecting well,” Skoyen said. “And now we have Davee MacLeod back in our server receive, she is a great passer and now we have her on defense and our serve receive.”
Another change the Ponies have made in hopes of defeating the Bulldogs is their serve receive.
It isn’t a major difference from what they have been running, but the new formation is one replicated from the Colorado State volleyball program. Skoyen has introduced it over the last several practices and she said the girls are executing it very well.
“We haven’t covered the floor very well,” Skoyen said. “But with this new serve receive, it will help us cover the floor a lot more. It is just going to help our passing a lot more. Our offense has been great, our setting has been great, but this is going to help out our serve receive a lot.”
The Ponies have had an up and down season thus far. But with the talent they have in such a young squad, they have shown signs of brilliance on the court. But struggling to find the win column on a consistent basis, now is as good of time as any to make some changes moving forward. There are still plenty of matches left on the HHS schedule this season, and this could be the mix up the Ponies need to really hit their stride before the divisional tournament in Havre the beginning of next month.
Saturday the Ponies will be in Choteau to take on the Class B Bulldogs.