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Ponies, Longhorns played tough at state


Last updated 11/16/2020 at 9:15am

Pierre Bibbs

Fort Benton battles in a Class C state volleyball match last week in Malta. The Longhorns placed fourth.

After the loss to the Columbia Falls Wildcats last Thursday, the Havre High volleyball team was aiming to bounce back against the Class A defending state champions, the Corvallis Blue Devils. The Blue Ponies were in for another tough battle.

Unfortunately, the Blue Devils would come away with a 3-1 win over HHS, the set scores being 23-25, 22-25, 25-21 and 20-25, at the 2020 Class A State Tournament at Sidney Friday. The loss handed the Ponies a 10-8 overall record on the season.

Havre head coach Steph Huse talked about the game against Corvallis.

“As far as the match went against Corvallis, I felt like we did a good job of battling them,” Huse said. “We did a good job of coming in with energy and being focused. They had one outside hitter that was really good that we had to work pretty hard to control, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. The momentum just really never swung the way we needed it to at the end of the sets. It just didn’t go our way. I felt like the girls battled as hard as they could and gave it everything they had.”

The first two sets were tight between the Ponies and Blue Devils, with leads and blows being exchanged every volley. Players like senior Talia Ralph and sophomore Yelena Miller put up a great offensive effort with kill after kill, while seniors Sydney Wilting and Ellie Collins fought to keep the ball in play. Sadly, Corvallis would get the edge late in both sets to lead the game 2-0.

But Havre would keep the fight strong, pushing through the force that was the Blue Devils offense and putting up key runs to take leads. Junior Alyssa Oliver would come in clutch with several spectacular digs to keep the ball in play, while senior Quinn McDonald kept a great pace by blocking some key kills by Corvallis. The Blue Pony spikers ended up taking the third set to make the score 2-1. Sadly, the momentum did not last, as the Blue Devils once again got the edge in the fourth set to come away with the win and send Havre packing.

At the end of the game, Ralph would rack up nine kills, followed by Miller with eight. Collins led the Ponies with 24 digs, while Oliver, Collins and Kennedy Hampton each shared one ace in the battle.

Huse was glad to see how far her team had come in 2020, though, especially in her first season as the head coach for the Ponies.

“One of our goals was to get to state and we accomplished that,” Huse said. “That was the biggest goal we had in our season. We made our mark that way and that’s something that the girls were proud of doing. In sports, you never know what it’s going to look like. We started on the road and it didn’t look like we were coming away with wins, and then we found our second wind in the last part of the season, turned it around and got a winning record on our season and a berth to state. It was a fun experience all the way around.

“Our season, with as many challenges as we’ve faced, like being in the pandemic and all the things it presented, I felt very lucky to have the group of girls that I had with a very heavy senior-laden team,” Huse added. “The leadership was always strong and the seniors did a great job of keeping us focused and working hard in practices. They did a good job of helping me navigate in the season and they were a great support to me. I feel very fortunate to have had the group of girls I had.”

Corvallis def. Havre, LO

23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 20-25

HAV – Aces 3 (Alyssa Oliver 1, Ellie Collins 1, Kennedy Hampton 1); Kills 40 (Yelena Miller 8, Talia Ralph 9); Assists 34 (Hampton 1, Molly Huse 2, Collins 30); Blocks 10 (Quinn McDonald 2, Miller 4, Collins 2); Digs 113 (Oliver 22, Sydney Wilting 11, Collins 24).

COR – Aces 12 (Hailey Anderson 4, Paige Colaprete 2); Kills 45 (Tyler Sorenson 5, Madison Lewis 5, Madeline Gilder 29); Assists 44 (Brooklyn Powell 39, Jenna Jordan 1, Katelyn Behner 1); Blocks 6 (Jordan 4, Gilder 1, Lewis 1); Digs 42 (Gilder 28, Colaprete 14, Powell 14).

Longhorns finish fourth

The Fort Benton volleyball team had quite the up and down Friday when it came to the 2020 Class C State Tournament. After pushing past Melstone and falling to Manhattan Christian, the Longhorns had a long way to go to make it through the loser’s bracket and to a championship match.

But, after beating the Charlo Vikings 3-1 Friday morning, the set scores at 25-13, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-21, Fort Benton fell to the Plentywood Wildcats Friday afternoon 3-1, with the set scores 21-25, 25-21, 14-25, 22-25, sending the Longhorns home after a strong season.

The battle against the Vikings did go well for Fort Benton, though, as the Longhorns would open with a strong showcase in set one to take an early lead. But Charlo would make the second set quite uncomfortable, getting closer to Fort Benton’s leads within the set and pushing through the tough Longhorns’ offensive attack, but Fort Benton came out on top to lead the game 2-0.

The Fort Benton Longhorns went to the Class C state volleyball tournament in Malta with the goal of winning a state championship in what has been an exciting season.

And Friday afternoon, that hope was still very much alive as Fort Benton defeated Charlo 25-13, 25-21, 22-25 and 25-21 to advance in the loser-out bracket. In that win, Abby Clark had 18 kills and two blocks, while Maci Molinario had 22 assists. The win came on the heels of a loss to Manhatten Christian Thursday night in the quarterfinals.

The victory over the Vikings Friday afternoon pushed the Longhorns into the fourth-place match against Eastern C champion Plentywood, and that is unfortunately, where the Longhorn’s season ended. In that match, the Longhorns fought hard, splitting the first two sets by scores of 21-25 and 25-21, but the Wildcats won the next two by scores of 25-14 and 25-22 to move on, while Fort Benton ended the tournament with a fourth-place finish.

In the loss, the Longhorns got 15 kills from Clark, while Aspen Giese added eight kills of her own. Plentywood would go on to finish third, while Bridger won its 11th Class C state championship by beating Manhattan Christian in the if-necessary championship match on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Fort Benton’s strong season came to an end with plenty to be excited about. The Longhorns went unbeaten in District 7C regular season play, and won the 7C and Northern C championships while also winning two matches at the state tournament.

Fort Benton def. Charlo, LO

25-13, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21

FTB – Aces 8 (Aspen Giese 2, Ashlee Wang 2); Kills 39 (Aspen Giese 7, Maci Molinario 5, Abby Clark 18); Assists 30 (Wang 7, Molinario 22, Cloe Kalanick 1); Blocks 4 (Clark 2, Samantha Vielleux 2); Digs 24 (Jasmine Wilson 10, Emerson Giese 4, Aspen Giese 8).

Plentywood def. Fort Benton, 4th

21-25, 25-21, 14-25, 22-25

FTB – Aces 2 (Wilson 2); Kills 37 (Clark 15, Aspen Giese 8); Assists 28 (Molinario 13, Wang 10, Kalanick 4); Blocks 2 (Clark 1, Vielleux 1); Digs 28 (Wilson 16, Aspen Giese 6, Emerson Giese 5).


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