Blown leads cost Muskies at tourney

The Muskie senior boys’ volleyball team blew several late leads en route to a 1-4 record at the St. Thomas Aquinas “Get Rid of the Rust” tournament over the weekend in Kenora.
But despite their poor won-loss record, Muskie head coach Brian Love was very pleased with his team’s performance.
“We were very competitive,” he remarked. “We played hard. The defence was good.
“We’d get to 20 [points] and we’d run into a wall, and that happened again and again.
“But the guys showed they’ve got what it takes. We weren’t outgunned,” Love stressed.
The Muskies opened with straight-set losses to Kenora (25-14/25-20), “White” (25-22/25-19), Dryden (25-20/25-20), and “Red” (25-22/25-21).
They swept Whitefish Bay in their final match by scores of 25-14 and 25-23.
Love didn’t put much stake into how the Muskies fared in terms of wins and losses in Kenora because it was the first time the mainly rookie squad played together under game conditions.
Instead, the veteran coach was more interested in observing how individual players competed and how quickly the team gelled.
“They have more potential than I thought at the outset,” Love said. “It’s going to be important that they gel quickly. It’s a very short season—we’re only six, seven weeks away from the playoffs.
“That’s going to be the key: Can they come together quickly, under pressure, and produce when they have to?”
Love particularly was impressed with the poise and composure shown by the Muskies’ rookies.
“The young guys are really stepping it up,” he noted. “In the senior division, it’s a faster game than they’re used to, but they stepped it up and really showed a lot of potential—a lot.”
The St. Thomas Aquinas tournament not only was a chance for Love to get a better handle on what the Muskies possess in terms of talent, it also gave him his first look at Fort High’s two NorWOSSA rivals—the Kenora Broncos and Dryden Eagles.
“Good offence,” he replied when asked how both Kenora and Dryden are looking this season.
“They’re quick and they’re going to force our guys to be quicker if we’re going to beat them,” he added.
Despite the fact the black-and-gold lost both their matches against their league opponents, Love took comfort from the fact they had a chance to win both of them.
“Late in each set, we were ahead and had momentum and opportunities to put them away and let it slip just a little,” he recalled.
“I think it’s going to be a real dog fight between these three teams to see who comes out of NorWOSSA.”
The black-and-gold now are gearing up for the start of league play this coming Monday in Dryden. Love said the team will use the time to fine-tune a couple aspects of their game.
“Speeding up the offence and blocking at the net is going to be crucial,” he stressed.
“We’ll be working on the little things making sure we’re technically sound,” Love added.
“Making sure we’re coming off those blocks and not getting called on the net and speeding up that offence just a little bit, giving it that little bit of a jump, to catch our opponents out of position.”