HHS seeks Central A redemption
Though the Havre High volleyball team may not have ended its regular season schedule on a high note, the Blue Ponies are still excited and prepared to face the rest of the conference at the divisional tournament.
Friday and Saturday, the Central A Blue Ponies will compete in Livingston for a conference title and hopefully a state tournament berth. HHS will first take on the No. 6 Browning Indians (0-10) on Friday at 12 p.m. And if the Ponies get past the Indians, they will face the No. 2 Livingston Rangers (7-3) on Saturday morning.
The Ponies dropped the last three games of their conference schedule last weekend, but still managed to land the No. 3 spot in the conference with a 5-5 record. The Ponies sat in the No. 2 spot for the majority of the season, but ran into a speed bump last week that was Lewistown, Belgrade and Livingston.
"The attitudes and overall feeling at practice has been great," Havre High head coach Melanie Skoyen said. "They are gelling so well as a team and are just so excited to make the trip. For a lot of them this is their first divisional tournament and they are just happy to be going.
"I like the enthusiasm they have showed at practice all week," Skoyen added. "I am hoping (last weekend) was just a hiccup, the girls are definitely upset about how they played and they don't want that to happen again. I feel like we are ready to go. Not a lot of people are expecting much from us and that's how you want to go into divisionals. We are confident and focused, and the girls don't feel any pressure, it's great."
The Lewistown Golden Eagles claimed the No. 1 spot with a 9-1 record. The Belgrade Panthers finished as the No. 4 team with a 5-5 record, but Havre held the tie breaker, beating the Panthers in three games, while losing in four. And the Butte Central Maroons finished No. 5 with a 4-6 record.
The only team that the Ponies didn't beat this season were the Eagles. Early in the season the Eagles defeated the Ponies in three games, but last week in Havre, the Ponies played very well in a four game loss.
And while nobody expected the Ponies to do much in what was considered their rebuilding season, the success the Ponies have found shows just how wide open the Central A is this season.
"I think just about anybody could take this conference," Skoyen said. But before the Ponies can push for the championship, they must first take care of the Indians.
Browning is a very tough 0-10 team. They held one of the highest serve percentages in the conference all season long, and have an extremely scrappy defense led by Sarah Horn, who was at the top of the digs chart throughout the entire season as well.
In the first meeting, the Ponies handled the Indians in three games. But playing in Browning the second time around, the Indians pushed the contest to five games, where the Ponies got the win 15-8.
Skoyen isn't looking past the Indians, but if the Ponies do get the win, the Rangers will be anxiously waiting.
The Ponies defeated the Rangers in three games in the Ponies' second match of the season. But last Saturday the Rangers handed the Ponies a loss in four games. And despite the loss, facing Livingston is a good thing for HHS. The Rangers are beatable, and the Ponies know it. And while the Ponies are looking for revenge, they will be fired up to play the Rangers, fired up to prove they are better than the team the Rangers beat in Havre last week.
Livingston also prevented Havre from reaching the Class A state tournament last when the Ponies were heavily favored to do so.
"We know Browning is a good team," Skoyen said. "We need to make sure we aren't going out there and overlooking them and making sure that we are taking care of business from the first point.
"We are just focusing on one game at a time." Skoyen added "We are looking at Browning right now and going from there. But in a way I think it might be good we lost to Livingston because it's tough coming off of a good win and still playing really well like we have seen this season. Hopefully we are fired up and ready to go out and be ready for a win."
Havre High will open Central A play Friday at 12 p.m. against Browning. Butte Central takes on Belgrade Friday 1t 10 a.m. The winner of that match will play top-seeded Lewistown in Saturday';s first quarterfinal.
The Central A tournament runs through Saturday afternoon in Livingston with the top two teams advancing to next week's state tournament in Bozeman.