By Tiffany L. Rehbein
It will be a dual across the Hill County line.
The Havre Blue Ponies (1-1, 6-2) travel to Chinook Thursday to play a non-conference match against the District 2B Sugarbeeters.
"I would like to see the kids come out and really be a lot more focused on playing," head Havre coach Bill Huebsch said.
The Ponies are coming off a disappointing finish at the Electric City Invitational last weekend at Great Falls.
For the first time in more than eight years, the Ponies competed in the consolation bracket, where they won two matches, before falling to the Fergus County Golden Eagles 15-8, 15-10 in the consolation championship.
Chinook enters the Havre match after defeating Harlem in three games, and losing to powerhouse Wolf Point 15-13, 16-14 in conference play last weekend.
"Basically, we just need to work with the parts of our game that aren't working very well right now," said Chinook's head coach Paula Molyneaux.
The 'Beeters will be looking to strengthen their defensive passing game.
And they will have that opportunity against the powerful Pony offense.
Senior Erin Patera poses the greatest offensive threat for Havre at her hitting position.
Sophomores Amy Ranes, Jayla McPherson, and Jeri Matter, and junior Nikki Grant have been getting stronger at the middle hitter position for the Ponies.
"They have a fairly powerful offense, especially with Patera in there," Molyneaux said.
Offensively, seniors Lisa Wagner, Jana McPherson, and Tiffany Shrauger, including Patera, all pose a threat at the service line.
Patera, Shrauger, and Wagner led the team in aces last season.
Shrauger and senior Teri Sherrill are dangerous on the serve receive.
Wagner and senior Kirsten Kuka are the setters on the team, while Terra Olson and LaShae Michels can come off the bench strong and often for Havre.
"There are times when everything is good," Huebsch said, "but, it needs to be consistent."
Junior Sadie Fuglevand and sophomore Kelsie Whitney share setting responsibilities for the Sugarbeeters.
Caroline Moores is tough defensively. Katie Hoffman and Amanda Schoen can serve strong for Chinook. The 'Beeters, as a team, served more than 90 percent last weekend.
During Havre's wins, they served more than 90 percent.
Although Chinook shares the hitting responsibilities up front, Renda Birky poses a big threat at the net.
Katie Malsam, Jessica Frank, Jacy Sheppard, and Lindsey Erskine are outside hitters for the 'Beeters.
Throughout the week, the Ponies have been focusing on serve receive and hitting.
"We can't play half a game, or one-quarter of a game, we have got to play a full game," Huebsch said.
The freshman start the night at 4:15 p.m.