Muskie spikers fall to Eagles
If the eyes are the window to the soul, a look into Maryam Seid’s tear-stained face would have given a stark view of the painful reality of opportunity lost.
Seid was one of five Grade 12 Muskies who played their final high school volleyball match here last Thursday—a 3-0 loss (25-19, 25-10, and 25-11) to the Dryden Eagles in the NorWOSSA final.
That’s because, according to former Muskie and current Eagles’ co-coach Allison Hyatt, an extra team from Thunder Bay, as well as a host rep, had been admitted into the field.
That means the usual NWOSSAA battle between the NorWOSSA and Thunder Bay champs is not needed this year.
The defeat was taken hard by all in black and gold, but especially those who won’t get another chance at a NorWOSSA title.
“Dryden really brought it today,” noted Keira Lindgren, another one of the group who are now the newest members of the Muskie volleyball alumni ranks.
“We’ve played against them enough this year that they knew what we were going to do on offence.”
Muskie co-coach Jason Cain echoed Lindgren’s sentiments.
“We knew going into the game the key was going to be our offence against their defence,” he remarked.
“Their ‘D’ came out on top, just like it has for the last six years,” he added.
Dryden jumped out to a 7-1 lead and then played Fort High even the rest of the way to take the opening set.
The other two sets were marked by huge stretches of Eagles’ dominance. Dryden led 9-7 in the second before going on a 16-3 run to finish it off.
The same applied in the third, with the Muskies getting as close as 10-6 before Natasha Kastrukoff scored 12-straight points on her serve as part of a 15-5 tear that sealed the gold medal.
“Our problem today was unforced errors, missed serves, getting called for being on the net,” lamented Cain.
The Muskies also lost a crucial team member early in the season when neck troubles, which started during the Muskie senior girls’ basketball season in the fall, sidelined Grade 12 setter Celia Berry.
“Celia started setting for us in Grade 10 so we knew something was off at the start of the season,” noted Cain.
“It was tough on the team,” he added. “It’s nice to have that third setter to push the other two and keep them from getting complacent.”
Still, Cain applauded his team on staying unified despite some changes in the pecking order as the season progressed.
“It was tough on our Grade 12s to have some of the Grade 11s take over on the top line,” he admitted.
“But once they realized the situation, they pushed the younger ones the rest of the way and made them better.”
Lindgren said her final season won’t soon be forgotten.
“It was a really fun year. I couldn’t ask for a better one,” she remarked.
“This was a really great group of girls and the coaches had a very positive general vibe that was very encouraging,” she added.
“They knew how to work us.”
It was a silver sign-off to the season for the Muskie junior girls, as well—a disappointing conclusion to the team’s best campaign in more than a decade.
Fort High had a bye to the final after a 7-1 record during the regular season gave them first place in NorWOSSA for the first time since 2003.
But despite Dryden having to go the full five sets against a valiant Kenora Broncos’ squad in the semi-final earlier in the day, the Muskies couldn’t fend off an Eagles’ team that dropped the first set and then rolled to a 3-1 win (26-28, 25-10, 25-17, and 26-24).
“Our serves were not always getting in and we lost a lot of points we needed to have,” Muskie co-coach Alyssa Holliday said glumly.
“I was surprised we didn’t come out better in the second set after winning such an exciting first set.”
The Muskies fell behind 4-1 in the first set, then rode the serving of Claire Hyatt to eight-straight points and a 9-4 lead.
Dryden eventually clawed its way to a 24-22 lead and was serving for the set.
But a missed serve kept Fort High alive and Sydney White’s superb block on the next point tied the contest 24-all.
The teams traded the next four points before Dryden’s Rinda Trout put her serve into the net to make it 27-26 for the black-and-gold.
Hyatt then drilled her serve and the Eagles could not return it to give the Muskies the first set.
But Dryden regrouped and took over in the second set, thanks to a 9-0 run powered by Trout’s solid serving game.
In the third set, Fort High trailed 17-14 but hurt their own cause with double hits and unreturned serves from the Eagles’ Monica Tourond to allow a 7-0 Dryden run to put it out of reach.
The fourth set saw the Muskies get off to their best start of the match, leading 10-8 at one point.
But Dryden turned away from its usual power game and used tip plays at the net to keep Fort High on its heels before eventually closing out the match with an emphatic kill from the front row.
“They did a lot more tipping than they usually do,” noted Holliday.
“We’re used to them hitting it hard at us.
“That was one of the better games they’ve played against us all year,” she added.
Holliday also thought the home crowd advantage actually may have worked against her team.
“I think the girls were pretty nervous and that some were actually hoping we could have played later when most of the students had gone home for the day,” admitted Holliday.
Although it was an unhappy ending, Holliday still took heart in the super season that was.
“The girls were awesome and worked hard all year,” she lauded.