The Rainy River Owls' senior boys' volleyball team has been hit hard by the injury bug but the remaining players still are giving it all they got on the court.
With only one sub on the bench, the Owls (3-2) did they best they could but just didn't have enough in the tank as they fell 3-0 to the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) in NorWOSSA 'A' action Monday afternoon at RRHS.
Set scores were 25-17, 25-15, and 25-16 for the Saints, which was their second-straight victory against Rainy River.
“I was very pleased with our team's play overall,” said Owls' head coach Guy Arpin.
“Due to injuries, we have created some holes in key positions which are hard to fill,” he conceded.
“It is what it is," Arpin added. "It is tough in a small school to field a team large enough to withstand the loss of players due to things like injuries.”
Arpin cited two players who caught his eye in Monday's loss to the Saints.
“In my mind, the players that stood out were Nick Vogan, with some outstanding attacks and stellar defence, and Jackson Arpin, who was very strong in his setting,” he lauded.
“As well as excellent defensive coverage.”
Rainy River came into the match fresh off an impressive performance at a tournament hosted by the Dryden Eagles this past Friday and Saturday.
The Owls defeated every team they faced in straight sets, which included wins over the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay), Hammarskjold Vikings (Thunder Bay), Kenora Broncos, and Sioux Lookout Warriors on Friday.
Then they downed the Muskies in straight sets to finish pool play in the Gold Division with a 5-0 record.
But after losing their middle blocker to injury in the fourth game of the tournament, it eventually caught up with the squad in their quarter-final loss to the Warriors in three sets.
“With only one player on the bench, who already had injury issues of his own, it was difficult to defend that spot,” Arpin recalled.
“We managed to get through our last round-robin game but in our first playoff game, Sioux Lookout quickly picked up on it and took full advantage of it,” he noted.
“Sioux played very well and deserved to win that match two sets to one.”
The Owls next were slated to host the Ignace Falcons today (the outcome wasn't known as of press time) and Arpin knew his squad would be in tough to get ready for it.
“We need to continue with our attack and tighten up a little with our defensive coverage as a whole,” he noted.
“Teams will not win games at the senior level giving away free balls [so] we need to be consistent with our attack,” he stressed.
As for the junior Owls, they saw their record improve to 3-2 on Monday with a comeback 3-1 win over the visiting Saints for their third-straight win.
After dropping the first set 25-20, the Owls battled back to claim the next three sets by scores of 25-20, 25-18, and 25-20.
“It was very crucial,” Owls' head coach Corey Smith said about winning the second set after dropping the first one.
"We need to take at least one set to get our two points against T.A. and we were able to do that.
“We played well as a team and everyone played some good minutes,” he lauded.
The juniors also were slated to host the Falcons today, with the outcome not known as of press time.
Smith had some areas in mind that his squad would need to clean up in order to have success today.
“Movement," he remarked. ”We are getting a little too complacent and need to make sure that we are always moving and in position.
“Getting into position will lead us to success,” he predicted.
After today's matches against Ignace, both Owls' squads won't see NorWOSSA action again until Oct. 29 when they host the Atikokan Voyageurs.
Then they'll end the regular season with a make-up game at home on Oct. 31 against the Red Lake Rams that was postponed last Wednesday due to inclement weather.