It’s been a solid start to the season for the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball team.
The squad was split into four separate teams, called Gold, White, Black and 4, with the Gold team snaring bronze at the Dryden Eagles’ annual home tournament held Friday and Saturday.
“The result is much better than we could have anticipated as we split our [main] team in two,” said Muskie coach Bob Kowal.
“There were several reasons why Coach [Bill] Daley and I decided to do this: first of all, it was a good opportunity for kids to get some significant playing time, which some of them would not have if we entered one team only. Secondly, it allowed us to see what players would rise to the challenge throughout the weekend.
“We did see a couple of real positive developments that will make us better down the road,” he noted.
“Make no mistake though, this team is much stronger when we’re together as it gives us a lot of flexibility to move people around during the game.”
The Gold squad only lost two sets to top the Blue Division.
That included wins over Whiskey Jacks (25-10/25-18), Saints (25-20/25-8), Fort Frances 4 (25-5/25-10), and Broncos Purple (25-7/25-23).
The Gold squad also earned splits with the Sioux Lookout Warriors (24-26/25-16) and the Hammarskjold Vikings (25-23/19-25).
After dumping the St. Ignatius Falcons in the quarterfinals by scores of 14-25, 25-24, and 15-3, the Muskies suffered their first loss of the tournament to the host Eagles in the semis.
The set scores were 20-25, 25-17, and 9-15.
That dropped Gold squad into the Bronze-Medal game, where they were granted the win after the St. Patrick Saints failed to show up for the match.
“The semifinal was extremely entertaining as both teams played hard,” Kowal recalled.
“At one point in the third-and-final set, the Muskie Gold team held a 9-8 lead. I thought we took the game over at this time and we were trending in the right direction for sure–it was a flubbed ball that made it over the net for Dryden and scored the tying point which seemed to give them momentum.
“Their coach made a serving substitution and our girls couldn’t seem to handle her serve,” he conceded.
“She got little bit lucky on one where it hit the net and seemed to climb over and fall into our court, basically, giving them a 14-11 lead which they didn’t relinquish.”
The Muskie Black team also had a successful tournament in finishing fifth in their pool in the Gold Division.
“If the Muskies could have beaten St. Thomas Aquinas during the round robing once during the last match of the pool, they would have finished third and gave themselves a better opportunity for success in the playoffs,” Kowal noted.
“All in all, it was a good result for the girls who lost in the playoffs to Beaver Brae.”
The Muskie developmental team, which was split into the White and 4 teams, also had a solid weekend.
“Both teams played very respectful volleyball throughout the weekend,” Kowal lauded.
“The Muskie White team managed to win their first playoff game before losing to St. Thomas Aquinas.”
The Muskie junior main team (Gold) had gone into the weekend fresh off a 2-1 win over the host Kenora Broncos in the NorWOSSA regular-season opener for both teams last Tuesday. The set scores were 25-11, 14-25, and 25-12.
Fort High was looking to build off that yesterday against the Warriors in Sioux Lookout, with the outcome not known as of press time.
Then the Muskies will host the Eagles in their home-opener on Thursday afternoon for their final league game before the holiday break.