Fresh off a sweep of the Churchill Trojans last weekend for the NWOSSAA crown, the Muskie senior boys’ volleyball team is en route to St. Thomas today for the all-Ontarios.
And they don’t plan on just making an appearance there. In fact, the black-and-gold have their sights set on nothing less than a gold medal.
To them, it’s simply a mental game. They know they have the physical talent to beat anyone—they just have to be consistent and bring their ‘A’ game to OFSAA.
“When we play a team that we know we can beat, we seem to play down to their level,” admitted Muskie head coach Adrian Chapman. “And that’s our big downfall.
“But when we play against a team that we feel is better than us, then we can beat anybody,” he noted.
The team certainly has been nothing short of spectacular over the past 12 days, first upsetting Kenora in the NorWOSSA final and then easily beating the Trojans in the NWOSSAA playoffs.
The Muskies walked onto Churchill’s home court Friday and promptly took the first two games of the opening best-of-five match by scores of 25-23 and then 25-9.
The Trojans staved off defeat with a 25-18 win in the third game but the Muskies turned the tables and won the fourth one 25-18 to clinch the match.
Then on Saturday, smelling a sweep, the black-and-gold dominated play to take the second best-of-five match in three games although the scores were relatively close (25-23, 25-18, and 25-21).
Defensively, the Muskies crowded the net to force Churchill to tip the ball over their outstretched blockers. When that happened, it left the Trojan offence out of synch and allowed the Fort to set up their offence with more ease.
The result was hit after hit down the line.
“We forced them to tip when we used our triple blocks,” noted Chapman. “We cheated up, forced them to tip, then we’d hit ours down the line.
“We had far, far more power,” he added.
Jamie Algie, one of the taller Muskies who is an invaluable blocker at the net, agreed they dominated play up front.
“Our hitting was better than theirs,” he said at Monday’s practice. “We blocked them at the net and that forced them to tip.
“We saw them at a tournament before and they were weak . . . we knew we could beat them,” he remarked.
“Everyone contributed equally,” echoed Chapman, referring to Saturday’s win. “Everyone played really well and that’s why we won so quickly.”
Chapman said the team has come a long way since the season started. “A million miles,” he enthused. “We knew the team had a lot of ability, and they’ve really come together as a team.”
Off the court, the stark reality is heading to the all-Ontarios is an expensive venture. The team will be flying from Winnipeg to Toronto, and FFHS athletic director Rick Wiedenhoeft estimated the trip will cost the squad around $7,000.
The team already has raised about $800 through canvassing town businesses for about an hour before practice Monday but that still leaves the boys with a hefty bill.
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the team can contact Wiedenhoeft at the high school or drop it off at the high school (cheques should be made payable to the FFHS Athletic Department).