After a solid season-opening win over Browning a week ago, the Havre High Blue Pony volleyball team was hoping to grab a few more wins over a very busy weekend.
But after a couple of Central A losses Friday, and a 1-4 showing in pool play Saturday, the young Ponies still have a lot of work to do moving forward.
Friday the Ponies were in Livingston for a conference triangular. The Livingston Rangers defeated the Ponies in three games by scores of 25-17, 25-20, and 25-19, while the Belgrade Panthers defeated the Ponies in three games by scores of 25-19, 25-6, and 25-13.
Saturday, the Ponies remained in Livingston for the annual Windy City Classic where they played five matches in tournament pool play, finishing the day 1-4. In pool play, Townsend beat the Ponies 25-21, Bridger beat the Ponies 25-21, Manhattan beat the Ponies 25-21, the Panthers beat the Ponies 25-12, and the Ponies defeated the Rangers 25-23. The Ponies finished as the No. 5 seed in their pool, but fell 25-16 to the Panthers in the first round of bracket play.
Saturday’s games won’t hurt or help the Ponies, who now sit at 1-2 overall and 1-2 in the Central A.
“This entire weekend was a learning experience for us,” Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. “I think the main thing that hurt us, and I kept telling the girls this, is that our serve-receive has looked good in practice, but is not that strong. We only practice our serve-receive against our servers, and our serve isn’t that strong enough either, so that meant teams were getting easy kills on us and they were serving us really hard. That’s isn’t what we are used to and we have to fix that.”
In Havre’s one win of the weekend, coming against the Rangers Saturday, the Ponies were able to avoid the mistakes that haunted them all weekend long.
And while a win is a win, the Ponies narrowly escaped 25-23. But even with the win, the Ponies didn’t have great numbers through their 1-4 total Saturday. HHS had just nine total aces and 54 total digs. Tatiana Ralph led the team with 19 digs at the tournament. Martha Stocker led the Ponies with four of the 10 total blocks and 12 of the teams’ 33 total kills. Dani Wagner also ended the day with 14 assists, while Ellery Bresler ended the day with 13.
But unfortunately, the Ponies struggled with the same issues all weekend. They made a lot of unforced errors, and couldn’t keep any of the momentum. And noticing a pattern, Skoyen said her Ponies would stay close early, even holding a lead, but would give all momentum to the opposition and quickly fall too far behind.
“It was nice to at least beat Livingston, and we did get a lot of experience,” Skoyen said. “And were able to work on a lot of different things, and I still have high hopes for this team. Even with all of our mistakes, the girls also did a lot of things right. They are still willing to put in the work and that is good too see, and I know this tough weekend built a lot of character.”
Friday, the Ponies really struggled against the Rangers and Panthers in conference play. The Ponies may have overlooked the Panthers, as they lost double-digit seniors from a year ago, but both teams handled the Ponies with almost no trouble. The closest loss came in a 25-20 game two loss to the rangers, while the worst loss came in a 25-6 loss to the Panthers in game two against Belgrade.
Facing the Rangers, Worm led the Ponies with eight kills, while Wagner had 10 assists. The Ponies also had six aces, while Ralph and Jordyn Warren both had six digs. Lacey Waid had a block. Facing the Panthers, the Ponies had 10 kills, and were led by Stocker with three. Ralph and Warren each had six digs again, and Worm and Stocker combined for the team’s three blocks. Breck Don also had two assists.
Despite the losses, it was still good for the Ponies to get very close looks at the Rangers and Panthers. And while at the Windy City Classic, the Ponies also got to watch Lewistown play.
“Livingston and Belgrade are both very difficult teams to beat,” Skoyen said. “And both are very good all around teams. But I also think they are both beatable, so that is good for us. But we also got to see Lewistown, and even though this was their first weekend of the season, they are solid again, and we watched them get better each day.”
HHS (1-2, 1-2) will look to get back on track with another busy weekend. The Ponies will spend Friday and Saturday in Great Falls at the Electric City Classic.
Livingston def. Havre
25-17, 25-20, 25-19
Havre – Kills 20 Aubrea Worm 8); assists 16 (Dani Wagner 10); aces 6 (Jordyn Warren 2, Tatiana Ralph 2); digs 19 (Tatiana Ralph 6, Jordyn Warren 6); blocks 3 (Lacey Waid 1.5).
Livingston – Kills 30 (Megan Hawkins 11); assists 21 (Shayla Pryor 9); aces 12 (Tegan Lane 4); digs 62 (Tegan Lane 18); blocks 6 (Meadow Ingram 3).
Belgrade def. Havre
25-19, 25-6, 25-13
Havre – Kills 10 (Martha Stocker 3); Digs 17 (Tatiana Ralph 6, Jordyn Warren 6); Aces 0; Blocks 3 (Aubrea Worm 1.5, Martha Stocker 1.5); Assists 4 (Breck Don 2).
Belgrade – no statistics available
Windy City Classic at Livingston
Townsend def. Havre 25-21
Bridger def. Havre 25-21
Manhattan def. Havre 25-21
Belgrade def. Havre 25-12
Havre def. Livingston 25-23
Belgrade def. Havre 25-16 (loser out)
Havre combined statistics – Aces 9 (Jordyn Warren 3, Tatiana Ralph 3); Digs 54 (Tatiana Ralph 19); Blocks 10 (Martha Stocker 4); Kills 33 (Martha Stocker 12); Assists 27 (Dani Wagner 14, Ellery Bresler 13).