Jr. spikers looking to pressure teams more

Jamie Mountain

The weekend may not have gone exactly how they wanted but the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team proved its mettle at a tournament hosted by the Dryden Eagles.
The Muskies compiled a 2-1-2 record in the Gold Division in pool play before bowing out in the quarter-finals Saturday afternoon to the Pelican Falls Wolverines.
“If I had to assess our weekend, it was a bit of a roller-coaster,” said Muskie head coach Terry “Goose” McMahon.
“We played our best matches of the season and our worst,” he noted.
“I think we are all a little disappointed in our finish, not because we lost but because we know we could have played a little better at times.
“But all in all, it was a good weekend,” McMahon enthused. “Our rookie line played in a system for the first time this season and played great.
“We played some good ball.”
The Muskies resume NorWOSSA action tomorrow when they head to Dryden to face the Eagles before wrapping up their regular season here next Tuesday against the Kenora Broncos.
McMahon knows exactly what his squad will need to work on in order to improve on their 4-2 record.
“We’ll continue working on our defence and our third contacts,” he remarked.
“I’d like us to do a better job of putting them [the Eagles and Broncos] in bad situations more, rather than just send the ball over the net.
“Our biggest key [to success] will be weathering the storms,” McMahon added. “In every volleyball game, there’s always an opportunity for the other team to ruin your day.
“We just have to play volleyball to the best of our ability and we will do great, but we have to play our game” he stressed.
As for the tournament in Dryden, Fort High opened play Friday with a straight-sets win (25-21/25-21) over the Broncos before splitting with La Verendrye (25-18/17-25).
The Muskies then fell in straight sets to the host Eagles (23-25/12-25).
But they rebounded later in the day with a straight-sets win (27-26/25-21) over the Sioux Lookout Warriors.
On Saturday morning, the black-and-gold split with the Hammarskjold Vikings (25-20/16-25) to finish second in the Gold Division.
But in the quarter-finals that afternoon, the Muskies saw their tournament come to an end with a 2-1 loss (26-24, 18-25, and 10-15) to the Wolverines.
“We had success when we played our game–aggressive, fast-paced volleyball,” McMahon said.
“Zak Kellar was running around like a mad man digging balls up,” he lauded. “He’s a fantastic libero.
“Jaxon Gartzke is finding his timing for his attacks and is starting to crush balls, and Declan Webb and Joe Hardy had some great kills,” he added.
The black-and-gold went into the tourney fresh off their second loss of the NorWOSSA season following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Broncos (2-3) in Kenora on Thursday.
The set scores were 25-18, 14-25, 17-25, and 22-25.
“We have been working on things defensively which the boys are starting execute in games,” McMahon noted.
“Our communication is improving, as well as our coverage and getting to our defensive positions.”
The Muskies began the week with a seesaw five-set win over the Eagles (2-3) last Tuesday afternoon at Fort High.
After the Muskies had jumped out a 14-3 lead in the first set, Dryden took a time-out in order to calm things down.
It seemed to work as the Eagles rattled off four-straight points to trim it to 14-7.
After Dryden fought to get within two points at 17-15, the Muskies pulled away to take the set 25-20.
Then after trailing for most of the second set, the black-and-gold took their first lead at 21-20 before adding three more points.
Dryden battled back, though, knotting it at 24-24 before eventually taking the set 28-26.
The Muskies then took the third set 27-25 before dropping the fourth one 12-25.
In the fifth-and-deciding set, the black-and-gold prevailed by a tight 16-14 score to take the match 3-2.
“We did what we needed to do to win but definitely didn’t play to our potential,” McMahon conceded.
“We didn’t give up but we got up early and started coasting, and Dryden made us pay,” he noted.
“But we kept playing and pulled it out.
We just need to play our game,” McMahon stressed. “When we start playing out of system, tipping too many balls, sending over too many free balls, playing undisciplined–we have a tough time.
“We played a lot of volleyball this past week and all of the boys had moments when they played great,” he lauded.

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