They almost played the role of underdogs to perfection but came up just short in the end.
The third-seeded Rainy River Owls' senior boys' volleyball team battled hard but just couldn't muster up enough to take down the second-ranked Atikokan Voyageurs in a heart-breaking five-set loss in the NorWOSSA 'A' semi-final last Wednesday in Kenora.
“First of all, it was a great match! We were the underdogs and we battled hard,” head coach Guy Arpin lauded.
“The biggest factors were the smallest things," he noted. ”The difference in that match was the little things.
“As a whole, our passing wasn't precise enough to allow our offence to shine like it can, and inconsistent serving cost us at critical times,” he conceded.
After losing the first set 25-21, the Owls fought back to take the second one 25-21.
Atikokan then claimed the third set 25-21 before the Owls' showed great resilience in winning the fourth by a 25-20 score.
But any dreams of an upset faded away in the fifth-and-deciding set as the Voyageurs prevailed 15-10.
Atikokan then battled the top-ranked host St. Thomas Saints on Thursday in the final, with the Saints claiming the gold in a 3-1 victory.
“We played well overall," Arpin said about the Owls' semi-final loss. ”We played some great defence and we held off their big hitters for the most part.
“We had some great attacks and some fantastic scrambles!”
While no one in particular stood out to Arpin in that match, he lauded the play of his team as a whole.
“There were players who had a good day and some who may not of had their best day,” he reasoned.
"But at the end of the day, we win as a team and we lose as a team.
“We may have let one slip away but I am proud of this team and their accomplishments throughout the season and playoffs,” Arpin added.
"We battled through injuries and players needing to adapt and learn new positions.
“We may not of walked away with a medal but we definitely turned a few heads!” he enthused.
Looking ahead, Arpin said his squad will be losing seven players to graduation.
But he's hopeful the returning and new players from the junior level will help make for a successful squad moving forward.
“We had seven seniors on this year's team and will definitely miss them,” Arpin conceded.
“[But] the Grade 11s will become those new leaders next year and will do a fine job,” he predicted.
“A bit of a rebuilding process but we are up for the challenge,” he vowed.