Home court was not friendly for the Muskie senior and junior boys’ volleyball teams last Thursday.
The seniors fell just short against the visiting Kenora Broncos, dropping the first two sets by identical 25-19 scores before roaring back to take the next two 25-21 and 25-17 to force a fifth-and-deciding set, which they eventually lost 15-9.
Despite dropping to 0-2 in NorWOSSA play, the squad battled back to make a game of it and head coach John Gibson liked his team’s effort in the late stages.
“The last two sets were really just phenomenal, but to see a match like that back-and-forth and really competitive was good to see, especially this early in our season,” Gibson praised.
“Especially the volume of the whole team as we got going really was fun to watch, and being able to play as a cohesive unit is fun to watch.”
Despite plenty of positives, though, Gibson said there obviously were things to work and improve upon as the season progresses.
“Our biggest thing is going to be on defence,” he noted. “Our first retrieves aren’t as crisp as I want them to be, as they should be right at the setter so we can run a faster offence, and we saw when that happened that it translated into big kills.”
Gibson certainly has some weapons at his disposal, including Talbot Johnson, who suited up for Team Ontario in the Juvenile division at the North American Indigenous Games this past summer.
“He’s really developed a jump serve, and I’m sure playing in the summer made a difference,” Gibson said.
In related news, the senior boys were in Thunder Bay over the weekend for the St. Pat’s tournament. They opened action by going 2-2 in round-robin play, beating Chapleau and St. Ignatius while losing to La Verendrye and Westgate.
Then in the quarter-finals against Sioux Lookout, the Muskies took the opening set 25-23 before dropping the next two 25-20 and 15-11 to be eliminated from further contention.
“We’ve got guys coming up in Grade 11, about half our crew, so it’s a good mix and bodes well for the future,” Gibson noted.
The junior boys, meanwhile, could never muster enough to sway momentum from the Broncos here last Thursday, dropping three-straight sets by scores of 25-18, 25-21, and 25-13 to also fall to 0-2 in NorWOSSA play.
The juniors have just four returning players from last season, as many graduated to the senior squad, but coach Duane Roen still is optimistic they can come together as a team.
He noted they groom the players in the same system as the senior team, so it takes extra time to work the kinks out and get on the same page in the early part of the season. But the raw ability certainly is there.
“We have lots of potential so I’m not too worried yet,” Roen said.
Both teams resume NorWOSSA play tomorrow in Kenora, with the junior then returning there for a tournament this weekend.