Jr. spikers gunning to stay dominant

Jamie Mountain

The Muskie junior girls’ volleyball team dominated the NorWOSSA landscape last season and it’s looking like it will be much the same this season.
The black-and-gold went a perfect 8-0 en route to the claiming the title at a tournament hosted by the Dryden Eagles on Friday and Saturday.
They also were dominant in how they went about winning–beating each team they faced in straight sets.
“The girls played great all weekend,” lauded Muskie head coach Bob Kowal. “Only twice did teams score more than 20 points on us [in a set] and the girls never lost a set.
“We had to persevere through some adversity,” he noted. “We already lost a starting middle, Keisha Debungie, with an ankle injury at the beginning of the year.
“We also knew we were going to be without Aurora Hutton for the playoffs on the Saturday as she had some previous work commitments.
“Aurora is one of the returning starters from last year’s team, and is an intimidating player to play against with her great serving and attacking skills,” Kowal said.
The Muskies also had received news that their other middle, Greta Fedoruk, was unable to join the team this weekend.
This meant they were down to two middle front-row players only.
“You would like to have at least four middles for a weekend tournament,” Kowal noted.
“Having two is a challenge, to say the least, but Ciera Ogden and Jocelyn Allan definitely stepped up and did an excellent job this weekend,” he enthused.
“We do have depth on this team but not necessarily a lot of extra size,” Kowal added.
“In essence, we were playing small all weekend.”
The Muskies swept the St. Patrick Saints #2 (25-9, 25-17), St. Ignatius Falcons #1 (25-16, 25-7), St. Thomas Aquinas Saints of Kenora (25-15, 25-23), Kenora Broncos #2 (25-3, 25-6) and the host Eagles (25-11, 25-16) to finish atop Pool Blue play after round-robin action.
Fort High downed St. Pat’s #2 again in straight sets in the quarter-finals by scores of 25-7 and 25-7.
Then in the semi-finals, the Muskies swept the Saints 25-13 and 25-17 before topping the Eagles in straight sets in the final by scores of 26-24 and 25-12.
“The turning point in the playoffs was the aggressive serving of Kaylyn Levesque,” Kowal said.
“It was Kaylyn’s serving that changed the dynamics of the game,” he noted. “The opposition could not handle her serve and allowed our teams to relax with big leads in almost every playoff game.
“It is easy to play when you’re up six or seven points to start every game,” he reasoned.
“In my opinion, Kaylyn’s serving success allowed her to relax and really focus on a strength of her game,” said Kowal. “This allowed her to gain some confidence.
“In the final set of the tournament, Kaylyn started on the left side and played well in all aspects the game,” he added.
“It was a good moment for her.”
The Muskies went into the weekend tourney fresh off a straight-sets win over the visiting Kenora Broncos on Thursday afternoon to improve their NorWOSSA record to 3-0.
The set scores were 25-17, 25-9, and 25-14.
They also beat the Dryden Eagles in straight sets (25-8, 25-12, and 25-22) here last Tuesday.
Fort High will cap first-half NorWOSSA play tomorrow when they head to Dryden to face the Eagles.
Kowal stressed the importance of his squad needing to continue to work on the little things, such as coverage, finding weak spots in the defence, and following through on game plans.
“Great teams need to replicate their success day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month,” he stressed.
“Our goals will be to win league games and tournaments in the same fashion we are now,” he noted.
“You don’t like to compare teams year-to-year, but last year’s team only lost one tournament final last year . . . and those girls were excellent volleyball players,” Kowal said.
“Our plan is to lose none,” he added.
“This is not to disrespect our competition, as there are teams that are certainly capable of defeating us, but we’re of the mindset we can win all our matches if we play the right way.
“That is our challenge for this year,” Kowal said.