Pony spikers face rival Eagles tonight
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Daniel Horton Havre Daily News [email protected]
The Havre High Blue Pony volleyball team flourished at last weekend's Class AA tournament in Great Falls. But now heading back into conference play, the Blue Ponies are leery of the fine line that separates being confi- dent and overconfident. Tonight, the Central A Blue Ponies (4-2, 3-0) will host the Lewistown Golden Eagles at the Havre High gymnasium at 5:30 p.m. And though all the Ponies focus and attention is on the conference rival Eagles, they will also travel to Lewistown on Saturday where they will face the Hardin Bulldogs and Laurel Locomotives. “I am excited,” Havre High head coach Melanie Walker said. “But this week we are working on not being overconfident. After the way we competed with the AA schools last weekend, in our heads we are thinking we can dominate the conference. We can't think like that. I know Lewistown is a very respectable program and there is a rivalry between these two teams.” This year seems to be a rebuilding one for the Eagles. But in the past they have still given the Ponies a good match. And though the Eagles lost all but maybe one from their varsity squad from a year ago, the same is expected this time around. “We have to work hard for every game,” Walker said. “It's not just going to be given to us.” In preparation for the Eagles, the Ponies have narrowed a lot of their focus towards executing from behind the service line. In recent matches it has really hurt them, and as the season progresses they cant afford to hurt themselves by missing serves. Contrary to the team's struggles, Hayley Donovan has continued to serve extremely well. And she is coming off of a weekend where she led the Ponies in aces with nine. “That shows me that she is being aggressive,” Walker said. “But she is still being accurate.” Aggressive serving and accuracy is exactly what the Ponies need across the board. Walker is looking for the rest of her girls to step up in that area of play. And Madison Ruff is right there, as she has also been serving tough, especially in key moments of matches. The Ponies are gearing all of their focus towards the Eagles tonight, but in preparation for the Bulldogs and Locomotives, HHS is just looking to get better. Walker and the Ponies don't know much about their Eastern A opponents, and their unfamiliarity has led to a generalized preparation. “We are preparing for them as a whole,” Walker said. “I don't really know much about either of them, we are really just focusing on Thursday.” Saturday's matches bring another opportunity for the Ponies to work on some things they may not have the chance to otherwise. A lot of Ponies are going to get their shot on the floor, and Walker will also have them in a couple of different lineups. “I know that the lineup I have right now is really gelling together,” Walker said. “But I feel like I'd rather have more options to go to if somebody is having an off game. I really want to focus on that.” It makes no difference who the Ponies are facing, they are still looking to get better and to win. And as the season moves along, they find themselves in the best situation to do just that. Tonight will be the first match the Ponies play with 100 percent of their squad. Since the season has started the Ponies have struggled with injury or sickness. Donovan, Cali Freier, Mary Kaercher and Courtney Kinholt have all been out this season, but as the Ponies prepare for another conference foe, they are all back in commission. And with the team back to full strength and injury free, the Ponies should continue to play at a high level. And this weekend, look for the Karla Hellegaard and Morgan McCann to step up in a big way. They have been two of HHS's offensive leaders with their hitting, and have looked good in practice. “They (Hellegaard and McCann) are my go to girls right now,” Walker said. “That's who I want Hayley (Donovan) setting to the majority of the sets to. And as long as they can find the court I know they are going to get a ton of kills. They are incredible hitters.” It has been a good last week of practice for HHS, and their confidence level is very high. They have shown they can compete with some of the top Class AA programs in the state, and now are ready to show the are one of the top programs in not only the Central A, but all of Class A. “We need to continue to play as a team,” Walker said. “That's one thing they do very well, and if we can continue to do that we aren't going to have any problems.” Tonight the Ponies host the conference rival Eagles at the Havre High gymnasium, starting at 5:30 p.m. And on Saturday, the Ponies will travel to Lewistown where they will face the Bulldogs and Locomotives in triangular play.