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Junior spikers strike gold


On an undeniably memorable day at the “Fish Tank,” the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball squad will look back at yesterday with the fondest of recollections.

The black-and-gold completed their remarkable turnaround this season with a 3-1 victory over the Dryden Eagles in the best-of-five NorWOSSA final in front of a packed gym.

After Dryden took advantage of a noticeably nervous Fort High squad with a 25-12 win in the first set, the Muskies gathered themselves to win the next three by scores of 25-20, 25-22, and 26-24 to capture their seventh title in the past eight seasons.

“The first set we weren’t pumped up at all,” an elated first-year Muskie Rylee Broman said. “But the fans really got us going. We just came out with better attitudes in the second set, and took it from there.”

The Muskies trailed in each of the last three sets, but used a combination of strong defensive play and an aggressive front line attack to hand the Eagles only their second loss of the season.

Fort High sported a dismal 1-4 record at one point in the regular season, but won their last three matches to finish at 4-4.

Then they knocked off the Kenora Broncos by a 3-0 count (25-11, 25-20, and 25-11) in the semi-finals earlier yesterday before capturing the gold against Dryden.

In senior girls’ action, meanwhile, the Muskies had their run for a fourth-straight title stopped in what could only be termed as a match for the ages in a 3-1 loss against Dryden in yesterday’s final.

A 28-26 win by the home crew in the opening set was a sign of things to come in a contest that saw both teams leave everything they had on the floor.

Dryden took the next two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-19 before a magical fourth set that looked as though it would never end.

The Muskies fell behind 8-2 and appeared finished, but rallied to eventually take a 24-23 lead to come within a point of forcing a fifth and deciding set.

But Christina Romaniuk put her serve into the net to tie the game, and then the next 15 minutes featured the two teams taking turns coming within a point of ending the set.

In the end, Muskie Tricia Smith had her kill attempt blocked cleanly to put the exclamation point on a 37-35 Eagles win that drew both teams a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd.

“It’s really tough to lose a game like this,” said Muskie coach Char Ellwood. “The girls put in everything they had. Someone has to win eventually.”

Fort High had swept the Kenora Broncos 3-0 (by scores of 25-17, 25-20, and 25-23) in the semi-finals earlier yesterday.

< *c>Hoops action

In NorWOSSA boys’ basketball playoff action here yesterday, the senior Muskies’ recent penchant for close finishes ended up being their downfall in a 64-54 loss to the Kenora Broncos in the final that ended the home team’s dreams of a fourth-straight league crown.

A nail-biting 65-55 overtime win over Dryden in the semi-final earlier sapped the Muskies’ energy reserves. And though they hung in valiantly for three quarters against the Broncos, the visitors pulled away in the fourth.

Kris St. Clair had 21 points to spark the Broncos while Muskie Cullan McGinnis racked up 23 in a losing effort.

In the semi-final against Dryden, McGinnis and Kevin Gemmell each had 18 points to pace the Muskies. Doug Laidlaw had 14 for the Eagles.

And the junior boys had a multitude of chances to upset the Kenora Broncos in their semi-final match-up, but a half-dozen blown lay-ups came back to haunt the black-and-gold in a 57-55 defeat.

The Muskies had a chance to tie the game with 5.6 seconds left, but never got a clean shot as they turned the ball over on the in-bounds play following a successful Bronco free throw.

Andrew Daly led the Broncos, who went on to lose to Dryden in the final, with 21 points while Larry Pham posted a game-high 33 points for the Muskies.

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