In a season where the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball team dominated, it was hardly surprising when they won yet another league crown last Friday in Kenora with a convincing 15-5/15-10 win over the Dryden Eagles in the best-of-three NorWOSSA final.
It was the junior Muskies’ fourth-straight championship, and seventh in the past nine years. But you would be hard-pressed to find head coach Struchan Gilson jumping for joy.
In fact, he expected his team to win it all again.
“We were just too strong. We hit really well . . . and we blocked well,” said Gilson. “The kids were pretty confident going out there and everything came together.
“Without sounding too confident, we expected to win,” he admitted.
The Muskies wasted little time against the outmatched Eagles (who advanced to the final with a 2-1 win over Kenora in the semi-finals earlier Friday), jumping out to a quick 9-2 start in the first game.
After that, they never looked back.
“The whole team played well,” said Gilson, noting he made just four substitutions in the final.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” he added. “We have a setup in which we play our top six in the playoffs. The kids understand that and the bench support was just super.”
Gilson said the key to victory against Dryden was the strength in their power hitters. Most teams at this level have just one or two quality hitters but this year’s Muskie squad featured four in Chrissie Thomson, Heather Mihichuk, Kelly Crawford, and Linda Zimmerman.
They, in turn, were set up by the talented tandem of setters Sarah Noonan and Elissa Green.
“When you look around, some teams quite often have a good hitter that gets moved to the back row but with our hitters, you can never get away from us,” noted Gilson.
And NorWOSSA teams will have a tough time getting away from the black-and-gold next season as the juniors invite eight players back—half of which will be third-year players.