As the Muskie senior boys’ volleyball team looks to capture this year’s NorWOSSA crown, one thing is for certain.
They’ll have to win it on the road.
With the Muskies preparing to play two consecutive road matches, beginning today in Kenora and then next Tuesday in Dryden, head coach Rick Wiedenhoeft admitted this stretch could very well determine their fate later in the season.
In fact, with the team sitting in second place, four points behind Dryden and two ahead of Kenora, Wiedenhoeft is placing a huge emphasis on their ability to win in Kenora, which is hosting the NorWOSSA finals Nov. 12.
“Kenora will be a tough place to win if we finish second or third and have to play them up there where it will be a madhouse,” he noted.
“We have to go up there and leave a message and prove that we can win on the road because we know we handled them pretty well here,” he stressed.
“They [Kenora] have a pretty average team and they’re not overly big.”
And while the Muskies also will be going up against a “pretty tough" environment in their final meeting in Dryden next week, Wiedenhoeft downplayed the importance of playing up there, saying "we’ll have to beat them on a neutral site” in Kenora come playoff time.
Meanwhile, Wiedenhoeft said the Muskies continue to make strides, particularly on offence, where they are getting solid play from setter Jason Jones, middle hitter Jon Ottertail, and power hitter Chris Wiedenhoeft.
In fact, those three arguably give the Muskies the best trio of offensive players in NorWOSSA. What has hurt the team at times is their inexperience and lack of ability at the other positions.
But Wiedenhoeft said those areas are improving, too.
"You’re never where you want to be but offensively, we’re working well and players like Chad Avis and Damian McGinnis are gaining more and more valuable experience, and Tim Lamb is progressing.
“The guys are beginning to play with more intensity, too,” he added.
The Muskies don’t see their next home action until Oct. 30 when they host Kenora, then they conclude their home schedule just two days later against Dryden.
The black-and-gold wrap up the regular season Nov. 6 in Kenora.