The Rainy River Owls' senior and junior boys' volleyball teams have gotten off to much different starts early on in the NorWOSSA 'A' regular season.
The senior squad roared out of the gate in winning both of its road matches last week against the Pelican Falls Timberwolves and Sioux Lookout Warriors.
Rainy River (2-0) opened with a sweep of the Timberwolves last Wednesday by scores of 25-13, 25-21, and 25-19.
Then the following day, the Owls eked out a tough five-set victory against the Warriors (25-20, 19-25, 25-23, 21-25, and 15-13).
“We started slow but quickly got rid of the first game jitters,” noted Owls' head coach Guy Arpin.
“Our attack became more consistent and our blocking improved greatly.”
Arpin also felt as though it was a complete team effort in how his charges were so successful in their opening two matches.
“No one really stood out," he remarked. ”It was a true team effort.
"Everyone did their part.
“All of the little things need to be done well for the big things to come together,” Arpin reasoned.
The Owls now have their attention shifted to this week, when they'll play their final two road games of the season—the first coming today against the Red Lake Rams before visiting the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in Kenora tomorrow.
The remaining four matches of the Owls' regular season will be played at RRHS.
Arpin said both the Rams and Saints will be a challenge, and warned that his squad needs to maintain intensity in order to be successful this week.
“Against Red Lake, we need to bring our game and play with intensity," he stressed. ”No one can take any team for granted.
“For St. Thomas Aquinas, I have heard that they are strong this year and we need to play our game,” Arpin added.
"If we do so, it should be a good match.
“We need to block like we did in the Sioux Lookout game," he stressed. "If we do that, anything can happen.”
Arpin noted Red Lake is a “scrappy team" and that the Owls "need to be ready for anything.”
He also said the Saints run a very consistent attack and stressed the Owls “cannot give away free points.”
As for the junior spikers, they've stumbled out of the gate with an 0-2 record.
They lost their opener 3-1 to Pelican Falls last Wednesday by scores of 21-25, 22-25, 25-23, and 20-25.
Then on Thursday, they showed more fight but ultimately came out on the wrong end of a 3-2 decision to Sioux Lookout (25-22, 25-11, 22-25, 19-25, and 8-15).
“It was a tough way to start the season,” conceded Owls' head coach Corey Smith.
"You could tell the team was nervous against Pelican Falls but we played really well against Sioux Lookout.
“The team is starting to gel and figure out the rotation,” he added.
“So I think with a few more practices under our belt this week, we should be able to rebound against Red Lake.”
As for things his players would be working on in practice this week ahead of today's match against the Rams and then tomorrow's versus the Saints, Smith said locking down the rotation was key.
“It's new for all the players so once we have that down, it will dramatically improve our confidence,” he reasoned.
“Other than that, just making sure our back row and setter are in position to dig the hits and tips.”