It was an eventful weekend of volleyball at the Central A divisional tournament this weekend, and for a while the Havre High Ponies were right in the mix.
Friday and Saturday th
e Blue Ponies hosted the divisional tournament at the Havre High gymnasium. And while the Ponies came away with a positive third-place finish, their hopes of making this week's Class A state tournament came up one match short.
HHS entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed and finished their season going 2-2 in the tournament. Friday was kicked off with a four-game loss to Belgrade by scores of 25-17, 25-14, 24-26 and 25-22. Also on Friday, the Ponies then bounced back with wins over Browning and Livingston. The Ponies defeated the Indians in four games, by scores of 17-25, 25-13, 25-14, 27-25 and defeated the Rangers in four games by scores of 25-17, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22.
The win over Livingston, pushed the Ponies into the third-place match on Saturday where they fell to Lewistown in three games.
It was a tough loss to Belgrade in the first match Friday, especially since the Ponies swept the Panthers in both of their regular season matches. But the Ponies also knew how challenging the Panthers could since it took the Ponies a total of 10 games to sweep the Panthers. But the Ponies didn’t hang their heads, and bounced back with two wins to end day one of action, something head coach Melanie Skoyen was very proud of this weekend.
“The way we played Friday,” Skoyen said. “My team really showed how bad they wanted it. In that (Livingston) match, that was the most consistent we have played all season and I couldn’t have been happier Friday night. With the exception of our Belgrade match, we played like champions on Friday. But in that Belgrade match we did have some jitters, but Belgrade played awesome all weekend and you could tell they were just fired up and ready to go.”
HHS also got a shot to climb back into contention on Saturday. And they looked to be in a good position, awaiting to play the loser of the Belgrade/Lewistown match. It seemed everybody knew Lewistown was going to cruise through the Panthers and give the Ponies a shot at a team they had a 2-1 upper hand on. But the Panthers surprised spectators once again and defeated the previously undefeated Eagles.
That meant the Ponies had to face the Eagles, a team that swept the Ponies in the regular season. HHS played well, but the Eagles defeated the Ponies in three tough games by scores of 25-18, 25-16 and 25-23.
The Ponies stayed even with the Eagles, but struggled to pull ahead. Finally the Eagles pulled ahead late and won the first game. In the second game the Ponies went down 7-0 and never recovered. The Eagles eased out of the second set. In the third game the Ponies tried to continue fighting and did just that. The Ponies went up 23-21, but could not get the final points to win the game.
“It was just an unlucky draw how things turned out,” Skoyen said. “Belgrade really had it out for us and they had really had it out for Lewistown too. I don’t think anybody saw that coming and things could have turned out different, but that is just shoulda, coulda, woulda. I think we made the best out of the cards we were dealt this weekend.”
In the wins that the Ponies were able to snag this weekend, they played very well at times. Hitters Sammy Evans and Sadie Seidel were able to connect well with setter Peyton Filius very well and Juletta Don and Sarah Armstrong played big at the net. Libero Brandy Lambourne seemed to have another consistent weekend and also played well in the wins.
Against Browning, Evans, Armstrong and Seidel all had nine kills each. And Filius had all 30 of the team’s assists, while Lambourne had 19 of the 45 digs. Don and Armstrong also had one block each, while Evans also grabbed five aces. The team had a total of 16 aces against the Indians.
Against the Rangers, the results were similar.
Evans and Armstrong both had 10 kills each, combining for 20 of the 40 total. Filius also had 25-of-28 assists, while Evans led with eight of the team’s 12 aces. Lambourne also had 21 digs, while Armstrong had two of the four blocks.
In the dramatic win against the Rangers on Friday night the Ponies showed more resiliency.
In the first game Sammy Evans served the ball really well coming up with a few aces to help the Ponies win the first game. In the second game the Ponies seemed to have pulled away late going up 22-17, but the Rangers didn't quit and ended up outscoring the Ponies 8-1 and came back to win the game.
Just the opposite happened in the dramatic and very exciting third game. The third game was extremely close until the Rangers pulled ahead to take a 24-16 lead. Evans was up to serve and the senior pulled out four aces making her total eight for the match. Evans was a different player and led the Ponies to 10 straight points, winning the third game, and stunning the Rangers. The momentum was all in the Ponies favor and there was no chance they were going to lose. The Ponies got ahead early and stayed there winning the fourth and final game.
“We were not letting teams get major runs on us when we were winning,” Skoyen said. “We were just giving up one or two points here or there. And we were able to sideout right away, building our lead and giving us back the momentum.”
But when the Blue Ponies were on the losing end, things weren’t going as well. The Ponies were giving up massive runs to both the Panthers and Eagles, and they were serving poorly, and were hurting themselves with poor serve-receive and consistent errors, especially at the net. The Ponies just couldn’t get any runs of their own, and with net errors, Skoyen thinks the Ponies gave up at least 15 points.
“They (net errors) killed us all weekend,” Skoyen said. “And it wasn’t only us, that effected teams all weekend. I think it did hurt us the most, and I think we just had good officials that really watched the net. I don’t know if we did that during the season and it just wasn’t watched as closely, or if we were just over anxious. But it really cost us a lot of points this weekend.
“I always put an emphasis on momentum,” Skoyen added. “And getting runs. But small mistakes like that really slows down momentum.”
Against the Panthers on Friday, the Ponies had 31 kills, with Evans and Seidel earning seven each. Filius also had 20 assists, while Armstrong had two blocks. Boles also had four aces, while Lambourne had 28 digs. And against the Eagles, the Ponies had just 19 kills, with Evans and Armstrong combining for 10. HHS was also limited to three aces, while Filius had 15 assists and Lambourne had 24 digs. HHS also had just three blocks against the hard-hitting Eagles.
Overall, the Ponies had an up-and-down weekend. They saw moments of greatness, and they saw moments where their youthfulness outshined everything. It was very similar to how their season went, but all in all, the weekend really showed just how tough the Central A can be.
“There were a lot of good teams there this weekend and I feel like everybody played well.” Skoyen said.
Despite losing their first match of the season, the Eagles recovered and beat Belgrade two times to win the Central A title for the third straight season. The Eagles and Panthers move on to this weekend's Class A state tournament in Bozeman.
Note: Intern Blaine Grisak contributed to this story.
Central A Volleyball
Livingston def. Browning
25-7, 25-23, 26-28, 25-23
Browning - Kills: 28 (Brooke Carlson 8). Blocks 9 (Carlson 6). Aces: 14 (Carlson 7). Digs: 51 (Monique Cross Guns 11). Assists: 25 (Shelsey St. Goddard 24).
Livingston - Kills: 45 (Tory Njardvik 17). Blocks: 3 (three with 1). Aces: 20 (Callie Ellingson 9). Digs: 45 (T. Njardvik 12). Assists: 33 (Alyssa Cornell 33).
Belgrade def. Havre
25-17, 25-14, 24-26, 25-22
Havre - Kills: 31 (Sammy Evans 7, Sadie Seidel 7). Blocks: 5.5 (Sarah Armstrong 2.5). Aces: 9 (McKala Boles 4). Digs: 58 (Brandy Lambourne 28). Assists: 20 (Peyton Filius 20).
Belgrade - Kills: 42 (Jordin Porter 15). Blocks: 5 (Taylor Woolman 3). Aces: 17 (Taylor Jacobson 4, Porter 4). Digs: 67 (Dylan Fowler 20). Assists: 36 (Porter 18).
Lewistown def. Livingston
25-21, 25-14, 25-18
Lewistown - Kills: 35 (McCalle Feller 14). Blocks: 1 (Kiera Bulock). Aces: 17 (Allie Adams 6). Digs: 44 (Jada Scheffelmaer 10). Assists: 29 (Allie Adams 27).
Livingston - Kills: 21 (Jordyn Yarborough 8). Blocks: 4 (Tory Njardvik 4). Aces: 6 (Callie Ellingson 2, Alyssa Cornell 2). Digs: 28 (Cornell 6). Assists: 19 (Cornell 18)
Havre def. Livingston
25-17, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22
Livingston - Kills: 46 (Tory Njardvik 17). Blocks: 6 (Njardvik 4). Aces: 7 (Alyssa Cornell 3). Digs: 95 (Claire Meyer 30). Assists: 35 (Cornell 33).
Havre - Kills: 40 (Sammy Evans 10, Sara Armstrong 10). Blocks: 4 (Evans 1). Aces: 12 (Evans 8). Digs: 95 (Brandy Lambourne 41). Assists: 28 (Peyton Filius 25).
Belgrade def. Lewistown
25-18, 25-23, 25-18
Belgrade - Kills: 30 (Jordin Porter 12). Blocks: 6 (Porter 3). Aces: 8 (Morgan Wandler 4). Digs: 58 (Dylan Fowler 19). Assists: 27 (Taylor Jacobson 21).
Lewistown - Kills: 27 (McCalle Feller 9). Blocks: 6 (Feller 5). Aces: 1 (Amanda Stenseth). Digs: 57 (Syndey Stivers 12). Assists; 22 (Allie Adams 21).
Lewistown def. Havre (3rd)
25-18, 25-16, 25-23
Lewistown - Kills: 40 (Erin Jensen 12). Blocks: 5 (Feller 3). Aces: 12 (Stenseth 5). Digs: 45 (Stivers 9, Jada Scheffelmaer 9). Assists: 32 (Adams 32).
Havre - Kills: 19 (Sammy Evans 5, Sarah Armstrong 5). Blocks: 3 (Evans 2). Aces: 3 (Peyton Filius 2). Digs: 65 (Brandy Lambourne 24). Assists: 15 (Filius 15).
Lewistown def. Belgrade
25-20, 25-11, 25-14
Stats not available
Lewistown def. Belgrade
25-22, 26-24, 25-14
Stats not available