It's been a tale of two different seasons for the Muskie junior and senior boys' volleyball teams, but the latter was hoping that anything could happen in the playoffs.
Both squads hosted NorWOSSA semi-final matches yesterday, with the juniors downing the Kenora Broncos 3-1 while the seniors earned a 3-0 sweep over the Dryden Eagles.
The juniors were to battle the Eagles while the seniors were to tangle with the Broncos for gold later in the day, with the outcomes not known as of press time.
The junior squad had gone into the playoffs fresh off a 3-1 win over the visiting Broncos (2-6) last Tuesday in its regular-season finale to finish with a 5-3 record.
But the Eagles (5-3) defeated the Broncos in their final match on Thursday, which vaulted them into first place and forced the Muskies to play in the semi-final against Kenora yesterday.
“We gotta work," stressed Muskie head coach Terry "Goose" McMahon. ”We can't take anything for granted [as] Kenora has shown they are capable of beating us.
“So we have to show up ready to play.”
McMahon believed playing aggressive, and not being afraid to make mistakes, would lead his squad to success yesterday against the Broncos.
“We have a tendency to stop swinging after a few mistakes, and I think that stretches out rallies a little longer and eventually leads to more mistakes for us,” he conceded.
“We have to play to win, not play not to lose," he reiterated. ”I don't want the boys to be afraid of making mistakes—you can't when you play aggressive volleyball.
Should the Muskies advance to face the Eagles in the final, McMahon said Dryden is pretty consistent across the board.
“They put their serves in and just keep putting the ball over the net,” he noted.
“We will have to stay sharp if we end up meeting them in the final.”
As for their win over Kenora here last Tuesday, the juniors got off to as great start in taking the first set 25-20.
But Kenora dictated play in the second set, taking it by a 25-19 score.
Seemingly unfazed, the black-and-gold battled to take the next two sets by scores of 25-18 and 25-17 to nab their fifth win of the season.
“We played well against Kenora," McMahon said. ”The thing I was happiest about was that we weathered the storm.
"There were a few times where we lost the lead and got down, but we refocused and worked our way back into the games.
“I think that has been our biggest problem this season so I'm proud of the boys for working through it,” he lauded.
“I think as a team, it was our best game of the season.”
The senior Muskies, meanwhile, finished the regular season with a 3-0 loss to the Broncos to head into yesterday's playoffs with a 2-6 record.
The Broncos took the first set 25-16 before cruising through the next two by scores of 25-13 and 25-17.
Kenora (7-1) had clinched a bye to the final, meaning the Muskies and Eagles (3-5) battled in the semi-final in order to earn the chance at gold versus the Broncos.