By George Ferguson
Saturday featured highs and lows for the Havre High volleyball team, as they hosted a triangular meet with Lewistown and Browning at the Havre High Gymnasium.
The Ponies split the pair of matches, knocking off Browning in four games, and later falling to the second-ranked Eagles in three.
In the morning match with Browning, the Ponies came out a little sluggish and shorthanded as well, dropping the first game to the Indians 25-22. Havre won the next three games by scores of 25-17, 25-15 and 25-17.
Pony head coach Lacy Anderson attributed her teams slow start to having an entirely different lineup on the floor because several key players were taking their SATs in the morning.
"We had a brand new lineup on the floor and we were making some mistakes early in the match," Anderson said. "But I thought the girls adjusted to the situation and played well enough to get a win."
After Browning took 1-0 game lead, the Ponies responded in game two behind solid hitting from Jeanna McPherson and Sara Suek, who was returning to the court for the first time in nearly a month due to a severe ankle injury.
In games three and four, the Ponies went on several long scoring spurts that sealed Browning's fate. In game four, it appeared that the Indians would extend the match taking a commanding 16-10 lead. But the Ponies rallied by scoring eight straight points to take the lead for good and close out Browning.
Havre got 10 kills and two blocks from McPherson. Kristi Owens and Kelsey Smith added five kills apiece. Heather LaPrath also had five aces in the match. Browning was led by Tamara Guardipee with 10 kills and two blocks.
The Ponies returned to the court Saturday evening to face the Lewistown Eagles for the fourth time this season. It was also Senior Night at Havre High gymnasium as the Ponies honored seniors McPherson, Pyrak, LaPrath, Suek and Kacie Kichens. But their last regular season match at home ended on a sour note.
The Eagles came out fast and and took a commanding lead in the first game behind great passing and timely hitting from standout hitters Alicia Mannin and Leslie Richter. The Eagles used a 9-0 run in the middle of the game to close out the Ponies 25-9.
In game two, it was Havre that got off to the fast start, taking an early 9-4 lead behind solid serving from Crystal Pyrak. Pyrak had two aces during the run. However, Lewistown mounted a charge behind three straight kills from Mannin and managed to overtake Havre at 12-11. The Eagles never looked back as they took game two, 25-16.
Havre managed to keep game three fairly close as it kept pace with Eagles, even taking a lead at 16-14 on a block by McPherson. However, that lead was short-lived as the Eagles once again asserted themselves at the net. After pulling ahead at 19-18, Lewistown would hold the Ponies off, winning game three and the match 25-21.
Anderson said the outcome of the match was disappointing for the seniors, and she attributes Lewistown's fast start in game one as a factor in the match.
"I feel really badly for the seniors," Anderson said. "It is really tough for them not to win on Senior Night."
"Lewistown jumped out on us quick in that first game and that took away momentum," Anderson said. "We also just didn't pass the ball very well. When you only have 12 assists, you're not going to win many matches."
Havre was paced in the match by McPherson with seven kills and four blocks. Kichens had 11 digs and Pyrak added three service aces.
Lewistown was led by Richter with 10 kills while Mannin added nine kills and two aces. Dani Buehler also had three blocks for the Eagles.
In between Havre's two matches, the Eagles downed Browning by scores of 14-25, 25-18, 25-23 and 25-16.
The Ponies are now 5-4 in Central A Conference play and 8-11 overall. They will travel to the Windy City Classic in Livingston on Friday. It will be the final regular season matches in the Central A Conference.