By Tiffany L. Rehbein
The Electric City Invitational will boast 208 games on Friday and at least 36 games on Saturday, with a potential of 244 games.
So, if you like volleyball, travel to Great Falls.
The Havre Blue Ponies volleyball team (1-1, 4-1) resumes season play on Friday at the invite.
"They are ready to go," said head coach Bill Huebsch, who is in his eighth year at the helm of the successful program. "We're so ready to play right now."
The tournament will feature all 13 Class AA schools in Montana, in addition to Class A Browning, Lewistown, and Havre.
Pool play will take place Friday at the C.M. Russell Fieldhouse, with Havre in Pool A in addition to Billings West, Lewistown, Browning, Butte, CMR, Helena Capital, and Billings Senior.
All three Missoula schools, Sentinel, Hellgate, and Big Sky, and Kalispell, Bozeman, Helena High, Billings Skyview, and Great Falls High, are in Pool B.
Each team will play two games to 11 points, and each team plays everyone in their pool.
The top four teams from pool A, and the top four teams from pool B will play in the championship round on Saturday at CMR.
The bottom four teams from each pool will play in the consolation round at the Bison Fieldhouse (Great Falls High) on Saturday.
Seeding for the tournament rounds will be based on win-loss records, total point differential in all matches played, the record against common opponents, and, if needed, a coin toss.
"We have the toughest pool, hands down," Huebsch said.
CMR is the State Class AA defending state champion, while Billings West is the No. 2 state finisher from last season. Both are in the Ponies' pool.
Butte and Billings Senior have traditionally been tough.
On the other hand, last year at the invitational, the Blue Ponies swept every team who is in Pool B this season, with the exception of Billings Skyview and Bozeman, with whom the Ponies split.
"We want to be in the championship portion of the tournament," Huebsch said. "That is where the better volleyball is going to be played."
The Blue Ponies have been on the practice court since their last tournament on Dec. 18.
The Blue Ponies, the back-to-back state Class A defending champions, placed first at Dillon. However, they were handed their first conference loss in more than two years in a dual against the Belgrade Panthers.
During the Christmas break, the Blue Ponies have added some things offensively, and have concentrated on all aspects of the game.
Rock solid seniors will be ready to guide the team.
Senior Erin Patera, a leader on the court for three seasons, is steady in all aspects of the game, including serve aces and kills.
Seniors Tiffany Shrauger and Teri Sherrill are tough defensively, leading the Ponies in digs at the Central A Extravaganza in December.
Senior Jana McPherson is hampered by an ankle injury, while Terra Olson, and junior LaShae Michels have come off the bench strong.
Junior Nikki Grant and sophomore Jeri Matter have concentrated on hitting throughout the break and look to play tough at the net.
Five-foot-10 sophomores Jayla McPherson and Amy Ranes pose a big threat at the net for Havre.
Senior setters Kirsten Kuka and Lisa Wagner. the epicenter of the offense, are making great strides at their position.
Wagner and Shrauger, in addition to Patera, tallied some big aces for the Ponies at Dillon.
"I want to be the best passing team at the tournament," Huebsch said. "Aces are great, but it can't control our offense. If we can pass well and play good defense, we are going to stay in a lot of matches."
The Ponies kick-off play at 10 a.m. against Billings West at CMR Friday.