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Big Central A home matches for Ponies

 

October 20, 2016

Colin Thompson

Jacey McDonald and the Havre High volleyball team are home to take on Central A foes Livingston Friday afternoon and Belgrade Saturday afternoon. Both matches are set for 2 p.m. starts in the HHS gymnasium.

The season is winding down for the Havre High volleyball team, but with four conference home matches on the horizon, the Blue Ponies have a definite chance to make up some ground in the Central A standings, starting this weekend.

The Ponies, who are 5-10 on the season and 1-3 in the Central A, sit fourth in the league standings. But with back-to-back matches against Livingston Friday and Belgrade Saturday, and with each coming inside the HHS gymnasium, there is a real chance for Havre to make some headway. Both matches will start at approximately 2 p.m.

"It would be nice to get at least one win this weekend," HHS head coach Tameica Jarvis said. "But, that's going to be up to the girls right now and how hard they play and how hard they want to work as a team."

Finding wins hasn't always been easy for the Ponies this season, but after winning two of their last three matches, they should have some renewed confidence coming into the conference doubleheader. Yet, getting wins over Livingston and Belgrade this weekend would mean more than a confidence boost. Currently, with Havre's position in the Central A, it would be forced to take part in the play-in game at the open of the Eastern A Super Divisional. The play-in game, which gets the fourth Central A team into the nine-team divisional, is played between the fourth and fifth teams in the final standings. A win over Livingston Friday, as well as a win over Browning next week, could be enough to avoid it. However, a sweep this weekend, would essentially clinch a Top 3 finish.

Beyond that, the Ponies will be looking to avenge early-season losses to both Belgrade (15-4, 4-1) and Livingston (2-3, 3-11), which will be easier said than done.

One advantage in favor of Havre is that some of the Ponies' key players weren't around at the start of the season. Naomi Terry, who was a Second-Team All-Conference performer last season, was out with injury and on top of that, a number of players such as Camryn Huston, Emilee Cariveau and Sam Oliver have worked their way into the lineup.

One area Havre will need to improve in if it hopes to have a shot at pulling off a sweep is hitting. HHS has struggled to consistently kill the ball all season along and has no players among the Top 10 in the Central A in that category. However, the Ponies are strong when it comes to the block as both Jacey McDonald (32) and Ceyara Plante (19.5) are among the conference leaders in that category.

"I am just looking for more consistency right now," Jarvis said. "From everybody. I think our middles both need to be consistent, they both need to show up and our passing needs to be better than it has been. We need to be disciplined and remember things and not go back to the things that we are comfortable with."

McDonald, a senior, also joins Alex Barkus in the Top 10 when it comes to assists. Juniors Logan Huebsch and Paige Nelson are also key contributors, while both Claire Worm and Alex Donaldson are in the Top 10 in digs.

While Livingston has struggled this season, the Rangers do possess a slew of talented hitters in Lauren Emter, Aleah Peterson and Hannah Dailey, who each have at least 98 kills on the season and rank in the Top 10. Livingston does have some talented hitters, but the Rangers are still behind Havre in overall hitting percentage and also trail the Ponies in serve percentage and serve-receive. The Rangers will provide a challenge for Havre, but the monumental task will come Saturday, when the Ponies will take on Belgrade. The Panthers, who lead the Central A in kills, blocks, aces, digs and assists per set, are as talented a team as there is in the conference.

Like Livingston, Belgrade has three hitters who are among the Top 10 in kills, but in truth, there is no player in the Central A quite like Bailey Christensen, who has 286 kills this season or 4.37 per set, when the next closest individuals are at 165 and 2.09. Shania Neubauer and Olivia Cook are two others who will make an impact Saturday, as well as Sydney Lambeth and McKenna Carlons on the block.

"Both Belgrade and Livingston have some girls that can put the ball away," Jarvis said. "They have some smart players and they are going to be in the game, trying to find ways to score and that's something that we need to watch out for."

After taking on Livingston and Belgrade this weekend, the Ponies will close their season with consecutive home matches next Friday and Saturday against Browning (Oct. 27) and Lewistown (Oct. 28) to close the season.

 

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