Havre High comes within one win of a state tournament berth at the Central A Divisional
It was a roller coaster ride of a weekend for the Havre High volleyball team, but when the ride settled, it was well worth it.
The Central A Blue Ponies spent the weekend in Lewistown at the divisional tournament. And while the Ponies entered the tournament as the No. 4 seed, they were able to exit the tournament with a third-place finish for the third straight season.
Browning shocked the Ponies in the first round with a three-set win by scores of 25-23, 25-23, and 25-22, but the Ponies bounced back in the loser-out bracket to defeat Livingston in four sets followed by the Browning Indians in five sets by scores of 25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 21-25 and 15-9.
The back-to-back wins by the Ponies put them in the semifinals where they faced a tough Lewistown Golden Eagles team, but fell in four games by scores 25-7, 25-19, 23-25, and 25-17 to end their season.
"This was the third straight year for us taking third," Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. "And in this conference, that is nothing to be ashamed of. It is disappointing to lose, but we know Lewistown and Belgrade are great teams and deserve to go to state and represent our conference. But the fact that we were able to compete was a good thing for us. I am very proud with how our girls played this weekend. They showed a lot of heart and hustle, fought hard, and never gave up. I think it was a really good way to end our season."
In the opening match of the weekend, the Indians surprised the Ponies, but that may have been just what the Ponies needed to have solid weekend.
But before the Ponies could turn things around, the Indians used 30 kills, four aces, 44 digs, and 27 assists to give the Ponies a devastating 3-0 loss. Reggie Bernard did have seven kills to help lead the Ponies, while HHS grabed just three blocks. Breck Don had three aces, while Dani Wagner had nine digs and 17 assists in the losing effort.
"Browning played so well," Skoyen said. "But I really do feel like that loss was the motivation we needed. After that loss we had some of our best matches of the season, especially against Livingston."
HHS quickly turned things around and got solid wins over the Rangers and Indians.
Facing the Rangers Friday afternoon, the Ponies got the win in four games. And the Ponies also went five games in the rematch with the Indians Friday night, but still capped off a very impressive stretch this weekend. Lacey Waid helped pace the Ponies with a 13 kills as the Ponies beat the Rangers for the first time this season. But Wagner and Worm also added seven kills each as the Ponies would outhit the Rangers 37-24. Ellery Bresler also had 23 assists, while Waid had 20 digs and Don continued to serve extremely strong with five aces.
And facing the Indians the Ponies were paced by 10 more kills from Waid, while Wagner and Aubrea Worm added eight each. Martha Stocker also had four of the eight blocks, while Bresler and Wagner had 17 assists each. The Ponies also had an astonishing 120 digs, led by Wagner's 23 and Waid's 20. And adding to the great numbers, the Ponies had 14 aces, including four each from Wagner, Don, and Tatiana Ralph.
"We played with such maturity and really played together as a team," Skoyen said. "It was great to see them play that well and see them play as a team, as they really fought their way back through the losers bracket to the semifinals. This was an all around fun tournament, and everybody really came to play."
The weekend did end with a loss to the Eagles in the semis, but it wasn't all bad. HHS got off to a slow start in game one, losing 25-7, but bounced back in game two just in time to get a 25-23 win in the third set. The Ponies were also neck and neck in the fourth set, but just couldn't hold the Eagles back for a win. The HHS hitters struggled against the blocking of the Eagles early, but would get rolling and finish with 30 kills, including a team high seven by Stocker.
"Our hitters were intimidated," Skoyen said. "I think watching them play Belgrade, we got intimidated by how well they blocked. But we weren't snapping our wrist or doing our normal arm swings that get us kills. We were afraid to get blocked, so it was our hitting errors that hurt us in that match."
Wagner finished with 16 assists and four aces, and two blocks, while Ralph had 14 digs against the Eagles.
The Ponies finished with an overall record of 7-14. Lewistown went on to defeat Belgrade for the Central A championship.
Central A Divisional
Browning def. Havre
25-23, 25-23, 25-22
Browning - Kills: 30 (Rachel Heptner 6, Whitney Bremmer 6, Cyndie Sharp 6, Kayla Skunkcap 6). Blocks: 1 (T. Belcourt). Aces: 4 (Heptner 2). Digs: 44 (Hilary Onesso 11). Assists: 27 (Shelsey St. Goddard 12).
Havre - Kills: 32 (Reggie Bernard 7). Blocks: 3 (Reggie Bernard 1.5). Aces: 5 (Breck Don 3). Digs: 47 (Dani Wagner 9). Assists: 27 (Dani Wagner 17)
Havre def. Livingston
26-24, 13-25, 25-15, 25-22 (lo)
Havre – Kills: 37 (Lacey Waid 13, Danie Wagner 7, Aubrea Worm 7); Blocks: 6 (Martha Stocker 2); Assists: 45 (Ellery Bresler 23, Dani Wagner 19); Digs: 80 (Lacey Waid 20, Jordyn Warren 13); Aces: 12 (Breck Don 5, Dani Wagner 4).
Livingston – Kills: 24 (Sierra Higgs 8, Lindzi Printz 5); Blocks 8: (Meadow Ingram 3, Megan Hawkins 2, Sierra Higgs 2); Assists: 18 (Bryn Greenwood 10, Emily Cornell 8); Digs: 72 (Megan Hawkins 21, Tegan Lane 12); Aces: 10 (Tegan Lane 4).
Havre def. Browning
25-20, 17-25, 25-21, 21-25, 15-9 (lo)
Havre - Kills: 36 (Lacey Waid 10, Dani Wagner 8, Aubrea Worm 8). Blocks: 8 (Martha Stocker 4). Assists: 37 (Ellery Bresler 17, Dani Wagner 17). Digs: 120 (Dani Wagner 23, Lacey Waid 20). Aces:14 (Dani Wagner 4, Breck Don 4, Tatiana Ralph 4).
Browning - Kills: 52 (Whitney Bremmer 14, Cynie Sharp 11). Blocks: 3 (Trey Belcourt 2). Assists: 48 (Joni Murry 24, Shelsey St. Goddard 20). Digs: 79 (Bremmer 24, Rachel Heptner 2, Sharp 2).
Lewistown def. Havre
25-7, 25-19, 23-25, 25-17 (3rd)
Lewistown leaders – Kills 50 (Michelle Monger 16); assists 44 (Maddie Comes 41); aces 7 (Mikaela Olson 4); digs 80 (Mikaela Olson 19); blocks 8 (Michelle Monger 4).
Havre leaders – Kills 30 (Martha Stocker 7); assists 32 (Dani Wagner 16); aces 6 (Dani Wagner 4); digs 67 (Tatiana Ralph 14); blocks 5 (Dani Wagner 2.5).