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Pony spikers rebound from opening loss to qualify for state tournament

 


When the members of the Havre High volleyball team awoke on Friday morning in Belgrade, they knew they had one of the longest, most difficult days of their season ahead of them.

Because the Ponies dropped their opening match of the 2003 Central A divisional tournament to Anaconda Thursday afternoon, they would have to rally on Friday to win three straight matches, if they were to reach the state tournament. By the time the Ponies went to bed Friday night, that's exactly what they had done.

Havre defeated Browning, Livingston and Anaconda on Friday and the fell to Dillon Saturday afternoon to finish third at the divisional tournament and earn a return trip to Belgrade this week for the Class A state volleyball tournament.

"We talked to the girls Thursday night about what was in front of us," said Havre high head coach Bill Huebsch. "I told them that I have seen a lot of teams lose their first match and then lose out right away. But I also told them that I have seen teams battle all the way back. In the end, we just told them that if they wanted to go to work that our goal of getting state was still within reach and they responded."

Havre started out its marathon Friday with a three-game sweep of the Browning Indians by scores of 26-24, 25-15 and 25-16. The Ponies got a big lift from Alicia Overcast and Kristi Owens with 18 and 12 kills, respectively.

Still alive for a state tournament berth, Havre moved on to knock off the Livingston Rangers by scores of 25-27, 25-15, 25-11 and 25-22. Overcast again led the way with 12 kills, while Owens and Kelsey Smith chipped in with nine kills apiece. Kari Bolken added a match-high seven aces.

The win over Livingston set up a rematch Friday night with the Anaconda Copperheads. And after winning the first game 25-19, it appeared as if the Ponies would get their revenge against the Copperheads as well as grab the state tourney berth. But then the Ponies dropped game two, 16-25, before rebounding to grab game three, 25-22.

With the momentum regained, Havre then fell back on hard times as Anaconda built a 21-11 lead in game four via an 18-6 run. But the Ponies earned a sideout that sent Bolken back to serve. and they mounted the comeback of all comebacks as Bolken served out 13-straight points and the match 25-21.

"It was an amazing comeback in the fourth game against Anaconda," Huebsch said. "Kari Bolken was perfect serving the ball and the team just slowly chipped away at that lead, and all of a sudden we had the lead. It was an amazing scene because that match clinched the trip to state."

"I was just so proud of our entire team for fighting back the whole day," Huebsch added. "To win three matches with our backs against the wall like that, I just couldn't be more proud of our team right now."

Overcast had another big match for the Ponies with a match-high 15 kills and Bolken added four aces. Kelsey Smith chipped in with three blocks and Huebsch felt that Smith's contributions were key to the decisive Havre victory.

"Kelsey Smith really stepped up in that match, she had a really quiet but productive weekend," Huebsch said. "I also thought that Brittany Vandersloot and Kari Bolken really played outstanding in this tournament."

With the state tournament secured, Havre went into Saturday afternoon's semifinal match against Dillon on an emotional high. They opened the match with the Beavers by capturing the first game, 25-22.

However, the Ponies ran out of gas following a close 25-23 second game and fell 25-11 and 25-17 in the final two games of their tournament. Dillon went on to lose to Lewistown in the championship match.

Despite the loss to the Beavers, Huebsch was still elated with how his team battled through the adversity of losing the opening match to achieve their season-long goal of reaching the state tournament.

"This has already been a tremendous season for us," Huebsch said. "But I am just so happy for all of our players that they will get to experience a state tournament. After how hard and well they played this weekend, they really deserve it."

The Ponies will open up the 2003 Class A State tournament with a first-round match against Western A champion Libby Thursday afternoon at the Belgrade Special Events Center.

FRIDAY

Havre def. Browning

26-24, 25-15, 25-16 (loser-out)

Havre - Kills 40 (Alicia Overcast 18, Kristi Owens 12). Assists 35 (Alexa Lipp 32). Aces 2 (Overcast, Kelsey Evans 1). Blocks 5 (Owens, Kelsey Smith 2). Digs 56 (Overcast, Samantha Seidel 12).

Browning - Kills 27 (Jenna Skunk Cap 11, Tamara Guardipee 8). Assists 19 (Noel Higgins 17). Aces 5 (Tiffany Polk 2). Blocks 1 (Guardipee 1). Digs 50 (Higgins 13, Skunk Cap 12).

Belgrade def. Butte Central

25-15, 25-11, 17-25, 25-16 (loser-out)

Butte Central - Kills 32 (Dara Shea 8, Kelli Paull 7). Assists 31 (Meghan Walsh 18, Brenna Manion 13). Aces 4 (Erin Holland 2). Blocks 1 (Shea 1). Digs 77 (Holland 20, Walsh 14).

Belgrade - Kills 47 (Jamie Janikula 18, Jessica Kallestad 9, Jessica Hespen 8). Assists 42 (Bonnie Brummond 41). Aces 7 (Gina Gregory 3). Blocks 11 (Janikula 6). Digs 66 (Amanda Suhr 15).

Havre def. Livingston

25-27, 25-15, 25-11, 25-22 (loser-out)

Havre - Kills 34 (Alicia Overcast 12, Kristi Owens, Kelsey Smith 9). Assists 33 (Alexa Lipp 29). Aces 17 (Kari Bolken 7). Blocks 3. Digs 65 (Overcast 20).

Livingston - Kills 31 (Shannon Bosley 9, Kaitlyn Kaiser 8). Assists 30 (Ashton Fink 29). Aces 8 (Fink, Leah Boehler 4). Blocks 6 (Bosley 3, Kaiser 2). Digs 48 (Kaiser 13).

Anaconda def. Belgrade

25-15, 25-27, 25-22, 25-21 (loser-out)

Anaconda - Kills 41 (Brianna Ternes 11). Assists 34 (Rae Hamilton 34). Aces 12 (Four with 2). Digs 53 (Rachael Dulaney 14). Blocks 13 (Heather Jones 6).

Belgrade - Kills 34 (Janikula 15). Assists 29 (Brummond 28). Aces 4 (Gregory 2). Digs 74 (Suhr 15). Blocks 8 (Janikula 5).

Lewistown def. Dillon

25-17, 25-15, 25-13 (undefeated semifinal)

Dillon - Kills 28 (Tiffany Stoddard 14). Assists 28 (Valory Monaco 25). Aces 1 (Charis Buffington 1). Digs 51 (Monaco 13). Blocks 3 (Tanya Lalicker 2).

Lewistown - Kills 33 (Lesly Richter 8, Claire Slagel 8). Assists 31 (Lauren Tognetti 27). Aces 4 (Tognetti 3). Digs 53 (Richter 13). Blocks 7 (Shaylynn Conroy 4).

Havre def. Anaconda

25-19, 16-25, 25-22, 25-21

(loser-out, Anaconda finishes fourth)

Havre - Kills 39 (Alicia Overcast 15). Assists 32 (Alexa Lipp 31). Aces 7 (Kari Bolken 4). Blocks 3 (Kelsey Smith 3). Digs 73 (Samantha Seidel 17).

Anaconda - Kills 38 (Heather Jones 10). Assists 34 (Ray Hamilton 30). Aces 4 (Brianna Ternes 2). Blocks 11 (Kalista Kopp, Heather Jones 5). Digs 80 (Rachael Dulaney 12).

SATURDAY

Lewistown def. Dillon

25-18, 20-25, 25-12, 21-25, 15-12

(championship)

Lewistown - Kills 50 (Lesley Richter 11). Blocks 17 (three with 4). Aces 12 (Alira Carpenter 3, Lesley Richter 3). Digs 85 (Lauren Tognetti 19). Assists 41 (Tognetti 39).

Dillon - Kills 52 (Tiffany Stoddard 28). Blocks 5 (Lacy Bricker 3). Assists 45 (Valory Monaco 44). Digs 102 (Theresa Bennett 25). Aces 2 (Tanya Lalicker 1, Valory Monaco 1).

Dillon def. Havre

22-25, 25-23, 25-11, 25-17

(semifinal/loser-out, Havre finishes third)

Havre - Kills 25 (Kristi Owens 13), Assists 23 (Alexa Lipp 22), Aces 11 (Kari Bolken), Digs 60 (Brittany Vandersloot 14), Blocks 9 (Kelsey Smith 5).

Dillon - Kills 59 (Tiffany Stoddard 24), Assists 53 (Valory Monaco 52), Aces 9 (Stoddard 3), Digs 88 (Monaco 20), Blocks 8 (Tanya Lalicker 8).

Havre def. Anaconda

25-19, 16-25, 25-22, 25-21

(loser-out, Anaconda finishes fourth)

Havre - Kills 39 (Alicia Overcast 15). Assists 32 (Alexa Lipp 31). Aces 7 (Kari Bolken 4). Blocks 3 (Kelsey Smith 3). Digs 73 (Samantha Seidel 17).

Anaconda - Kills 38 (Heather Jones 10). Assists 34 (Ray Hamilton 30). Aces 4 (Brianna Ternes 2). Blocks 11 (Kalista Kopp, Heather Jones 5). Digs 80 (Rachael Dulaney 12).

 

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