By George Ferguson
The CMR Rustlers came into the Havre High gymnasium having not won a match all season. When they left Havre on Saturday night, they had their first victory, while leaving the Ponies mired in a five-match losing streak.
The Rustlers won the first two games of the match by scores of 25-21 and 25-19. The the Ponies rallied to win game three by a score of 25-21 before falling in game four by the same score.
Despite the loss, Havre head coach Lacy Anderson was pleased with her team's efforts.
"The girls played really well tonight," Anderson said. "I saw a lot of good things from our team that I hadn't seen in the past few weeks. They (CMR) were just desperate for a win and it showed tonight."
Despite the Rustlers' record coming into the match, Anderson knew they would present a strong test for her team.
"We haven't been playing very well and neither had they," Anderson said. "But they are still a AA school and our girls stepped up their intensity and gave them a good match tonight."
The Rustlers jumped out to a 13-5 lead in game one behind solid hitting and good defense. Havre rallied behind the solid hitting of Alicia Overcast to tie the game at 17. From there, the two teams traded points until CMR pulled away late. With the game tied at 20, Rustler outside hitter Ashley Neill smashed a shot down the right sideline that put the game away for good.
The second game was much of the same as both team stayed close, but CMR grabbed a five- point lead midway through the game. Despite solid defense and long rallies by the Ponies, they could never get closer than that five-point cushion as the Rustlers took game two.
The third game saw a desperate Pony team claw its way back into the match behind inspired net play from Jeanna McPherson. The game stayed within one point on both sides of the net. However, with the game tied at 20, Kelsey Smith blocked Emily Loehr's attempted kill and Havre then served out the game.
The fourth game was much like the third long rallies and back-and-forth scoring. However, CMR managed to grab a six-point lead behind great hitting from Loehr, Neill and standout Haley Van Heel. The Rustlers kept a five- or six-point cushion throughout the remainder of the game, finishing things off with an emphatic kill by outside hitter Megan Casey.
The Ponies were led by McPherson with 13 kills and five blocks. Kelsey Smith added eight kills. Heather Laprath also had a fine night with 12 digs and three service aces.
Anderson has been especially pleased with the play of Laprath.
"Heather Laprath has really come on strong for us lately," Anderson said. "Something clicked with her a few weeks ago and since, she has just been playing really well."
The Rustlers got 13 kills and three blocks from Loehr. Neill added nine kills in the victory.
The Ponies are now 4-3 in Central A conference play and 7-10 overall. They will have the next week off before returning to action on Oct. 26, when they host Lewistown and Browning.