Long roads to gold for spikers
If the Muskie junior and senior boys’ volleyball teams both want to come away with NorWOSSA gold tomorrow in Kenora, they’ll have to do it the hard way.
After both squads finished in second place in the regular-season standings, they’ll square off against the host Broncos in their respective semi-finals, with a berth against the first-place Dryden Eagles in the title game on the line.
“I was very happy with how the [match] went today,” Muskie head coach Allison Hyatt said afterwards.
“In our tournament in Winnipeg [the previous] weekend, we had some moments where we weren’t very positive and we weren’t very mentally strong,” she noted.
“We were able to stay positive and mentally strong today [Thursday], which is what I liked the most out there, and we were able to also run a few different plays, which was good to see.”
Thursday’s win came on the heels of a three-set loss (20-25, 18-25, and 13-25) on Tuesday to the Eagles in Dryden, in a contest where the black-and-gold did not field a full lineup.
“That was still a good game from the guys even though we lost in three sets,” Hyatt recalled.
“We had people that were rarely playing their regular positions, so it was kind of a scramble at times out there,” she admitted.
“It was an experimental [match] for us, but we did very well with what we had.”
With a week to prepare for the NorWOSSA playoffs tomorrow, the seniors have been making sure everyone will be firing on all cylinders when they take to the floor for their semi-final match at 11:30 a.m.
“We really just want to fine-tune everything from offence to defence . . . making sure everything is perfect,” said Brandon Sinclair.
“We definitely have to practise our blocking as if we play Dryden [in the final], we will be going up against some big hitters.
“But it’ll be just mainly making sure that everybody has their head in the game,” he stressed.
The junior spikers, meanwhile, have momentum on their side heading into the playoffs after winning both matches last week to finish the regular season at 5-3.
They earned their first win of the NorWOSSA season over the Eagles last Tuesday in Dryden in straight sets (25-23, 25-16, and 25-19), then followed that up with a four-set triumph (25-20, 20-25, 25-16, 25-23) over the Broncos here on Thursday.
“The win on Tuesday was awesome,” coach John Gibson smiled.
“The biggest difference in that [match], especially when compared to our tournament in Dryden the weekend before, was with our passing,” he noted.
“And the guys played a really clean and attacking game with very high intensity.
“Although we got the win over Kenora, and I was fine with the guys handling things when it got close at the end, a lot of match was boring and flat and the guys weren’t as excited or into it as they were in Dryden,” Gibson added.
Energy on the floor is something the players know they’ll have to bring into their semi-final match versus the Broncos tomorrow at 10 a.m., especially if they want to have a shot at winning the league title.
“I think that we want to work on being more focused in the games, and we have to keep up the intensity,” stressed captain Connor Bujold.
“When we are louder and encouraging each other out there, we play better.”
The junior boys’ final is set for 2 p.m., with the senior boys’ championship game rounding out the day’s activities at 8 p.m.