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Senior spikers still earn berth to all-Ontarios despite loss

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A mixture of nerves, excitement, and financial burden weigh on the minds of the Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team as they prepare to represent Fort High at the all-Ontarios on March 6-8 in Dryden.

Even though they were swept 25-14, 25-14, and 25-22 in the best-of-five NorWOSSA final to the first-place Eagles here last Thursday, the black-and-gold still earned a berth to OFSAA as the second-place team because Dryden has an automatic berth as host.

The Muskies had advanced to the final after narrowly beating the Kenora Broncos 3-1 in the semi-final earlier Thursday by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 26-24, and 25-23.

“[We] were definitely nervous [in the semi-final] but pumped, as well,” noted Muskie head coach Duane Roen. “[We] played with a combination of heart and hustle, and deserved to win.

“I am extremely proud of how [we] played.”

However, the Eagles presented some tough competition in the final.

“We struggled at times with our offence, which makes it extremely difficult to be competitive with the Eagles,” noted Roen.

And after losing the first two sets to the Eagles, it was tough for the black-and-gold to regain the momentum. “[We] battled tooth and nail but lost,” Roen said.

After preparing for NorWOSSA for months, the team now has less than a month to get ready to battle teams from all across the province.

“There’s a huge pressure to do well,” noted Muskie player Michelle Cournoyer. “We’re representing our school and we have a lot of pressure.”

The players also are struggling with not knowing exactly what to expect from the teams they’ll be facing in Dryden.

“We’re used to playing Dryden and Kenora and that’s it,” said Claire Crichton. “We don’t know what to expect.

“But we have to train ourselves for anything and everything. We have to prepare for the unexpected,” she reasoned.

Both Roen and assistant coach Caylee Brow agreed.

“No matter what, we have to get to where they are,” said Brow. “We just have to [rise] up to their level.”

The talent is there, the determination is there, and so is the motivation. The only thing the team lacks is funding.

“The girls are actively looking for sponsors,” said Roen. “If we don’t get help with funding, we don’t go or it will have to come from the girls’ pockets.”

Any sponsorships by local businesses would be greatly appreciated.

And if you ask nicely, the Muskies might even do the “Pony Dance” for you—a motivational, energetic routine the girls perform before practices and games to get the blood flowing.

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