They just were unable to find consistency when it mattered most.
A solid season came to an end earlier that it had hoped as the Muskie junior boys' volleyball team was swept 3-0 by the host Dryden Eagles in the NorWOSSA semifinal on Friday morning.
“It's disappointing because we didn't play our game and to our abilities,” Muskie coach Terry McMahon admitted after the season-ending loss.
The second-ranked Muskies started off well in the first set in racing out to a 3-0 lead, but third-place Dryden fought back to take a 7-4 advantage of its own.
Then after the Eagles led by as much as 11-6, the Muskies battled back and knotted it at 16-16 at one point.
But the hosts found their groove from there and pulled out a 25-19 win.
In the second set, the Muskies stayed as close as 7-5 at one point but Dryden prevailed with a decisive 25-11 victory.
Fort High held a 6-2 lead to start the third set, but quickly saw it evaporate due to unforced errors and missed serves.
The Eagles took their first lead of the set at 9-8 and built up a 20-11 advantage.
Refusing to fold, however, the Muskies fought back valiantly and rattled of nine points in a row to knot it at 20-20.
But the hosts buckled down and outscored the Muskies 5-1 from that point on to take the match with a 25-21 win.
“I don't know if it was nerves or whatnot, we just couldn't get going until halfway through the third set,” said McMahon.
"But it's hard to win when they're at 20 points already, right?
“So it just seemed like we didn't get going and I don't know what that is attributed to,” he conceded.
“We'd do one good thing and then we'd do something else. Like we'd get to the serving line and miss a serve. Those are the ones that you gotta put them in to keep things in your favour. So it was the same all season, just riding the roller coaster and, you know, trying to battle it out.”
Despite a tough loss to end the year, McMahon is hopeful his returning players will learn from it and improve next season to lead the new crop of players.
“That's junior volleyball, right? Just learning those lessons and this is the growing pains of it,” he reasoned.
"Hopefully they learn from it and use it as motivation, I guess.
“Losing makes you better, right? And winning's always nice, but losing is what you learn your lessons from,” he remarked.
"The majority of our boys, I think seven of 'em are coming back next year, so next year we'll have a good returning core.
“I'm already excited for next year because it was pretty much an all-rookie team and I still think our development came the furthest,” McMahon enthused.
“This might sound like it's from a biased coaching standpoint, but just how far the boys all came, I'm really pleased with them and I'm already looking forward to next year.”