By Kim Staudinger
The Havre High volleyball team begins their season Friday, looking for a little revenge from last year.
The Ponies take to the road to face Butte Central and Belgrade Friday before taking part in the Central A Extravaganza in Anaconda on Saturday.
Seven seniors will lead the way for the Ponies, who had a disappointing finish to the season last year.
Members of this year's varsity team are Amy Ranes, Julie Wagner, Laura Hedstrom, Jeri Matter, Jayla McPherson, Katie Malsam, Katie Miller, Sara Suek, Jeanna McPherson, Kari Bolken and Taylor Donaldson.
While Havre only lost three players from last year's team (Samantha Velk, Nikki Baltrusch and LaShae Michels), the seniors this year will have to make up for lost leadership and key players to be successful this year.
"Mostly I am looking for the seven seniors to lead by example," second-year head coach Lacy Anderson said, noting three seniors in particular should have standout seasons. "We have wonderful athletes. I expect Amy, as always, to do very well, Jeri Matter has great potential to do wonderful things, and Julie Wagner with her passing and wonderful defense."
The first test for Havre comes Friday, facing Butte Central and Belgrade. Last year Belgrade won the Central A conference and are expected to be tough again this year. Butte Central will also be a tough contest for the Ponies as the Maroons came to Havre last year and came away with the victory.
"Butte Central doesn't have much for height, but they're scrappy. You can tip the ball, you roll, you do anything you can and they find a way to get it up," Anderson said. "They came here last year and beat us on our own floor. It's time for payback. We owe them one."
This early in the season, the Ponies still have some things that need to fall into place, but as Anderson says, so do all the other teams in the state.
"We're all in the same boat," she said. "We've had 10 practices, which isn't a whole lot. It's a clean slate. It doesn't matter what happened last year or the year before. We all start from zero and go from there."
The only clear problem the Ponies have had so far this season is with passing, which leads to the other key aspects of the game.
"If we pass the ball well, I will be happy," she said. "The setting and hitting will come as we progress with our passing. We need to pass the ball before we do anything else.
"It's early in the season and they might not be quite in the volleyball frame of mind. But either we pass or we go home early. Maybe this weekend will wake us up."
Other exciting news for the Ponies this season is the return of former head coach Bill Huebsch. Huebsch will coach the junior varsity team this year, but adds much more to the team, having some of the seniors play varsity for him before he resigned from his position.
"He's a huge addition to the program," Anderson said. "He knows the game inside and out."
After Friday's two games, the Ponies start the Extravaganza with round-robin play at 9 a.m. against Anaconda. Havre will also face Butte Central and Belgrade before the double-elimination tournament is set up for the afternoon.