Junior Muskies setting up for better season

After two extremely tough seasons, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team.
Head coach Greg Ste. Croix identified what he believes is the main reason the black-and-gold managed only a single win during the past two seasons—and spent this year’s tryouts looking for players who could alleviate the problem.
“My focus at tryouts was that we were really looking at getting setters,” he explained.
“The last two seasons have been tough and that, quite frankly, is not really an indication of our ability to hit and block, because we were phenomenal,” he added.
“Where we lost it was our setting.”
Ste. Croix already has tabbed returning players Justin Bujold and Kurtis Gustafson to spend time at the setter position. And he almost certainly will take a look at a couple of more players in that role both in practice and early in the season.
“I think we’re going to put more people in the setting role early on, and we might have to move a couple of people as the season goes on, but I’d much rather have four quality setters early and develop them than focus in on just one or two guys and something happens and we’re in trouble,” he remarked.
Despite it being extremely early in the season, Ste. Croix is pleased with the play of all those who’ve been ask to fill that crucial role.
“I think this is probably the best setting team we’ve had in three years,” he said.
The improved play of the setters has been instrumental in helping to improve several other aspects of the team—the most important of which being the way the Muskies practice.
“It is exciting because we’re two practices in . . . and we’re doing stuff in two team practices that I’ve never done before,” Ste. Croix said.
The quality at the setter position also has allowed the coach to adopt a more sophisticated offensive strategy.
“Every spot is dangerous,” Ste. Croix said of the team’s new offence.
“I think in years past it was pass, set to power, attack; pass, set to power, attack; pass, set to middle, then back to power.
“This year, because the setters are more advanced, every position could get the ball,” he added.
“So whether you’re offside, middle, or power, you have to have a full approach because the ball could be there.”
In attacking from every conceivable angle, the black-and-gold hope to keep their opponents off-balance by not allowing them to consistently set up their defence in the same spot play after play.
In addition to the new setters, Ste. Croix is eager to see the incoming crop of Grade 9 players compete in a game situation.
“I’m very excited about the Grade 9 group that we have,” he enthused.
“Chris Legg has a lot of potential. Joe Basaraba has a lot of potential. Steve Romaniuk has a lot of potential.”
Ste. Croix added the Muskies also have several first-year Grade 10 players who will be extremely interesting to watch this season.
Despite all the positives heading into the season, there still is a few areas of concern.
“At this point, we’re not as strong hitting,” Ste. Croix conceded. “Our power has to step up. We don’t have the luxury of phenomenal middles, although I think we’re going to be able to contend.”
With all the change surrounding the junior squad this season, the only question that remains is how many wins can the Muskie faithful expect to see?
“When you win one match the year before, you want to take small steps,” Ste. Croix warned.
“If we win four matches, I’d be very, very pleased. I’d be lying if I said 8-0 was achievable.
“It’s going to be tough, especially at the start, but once we get going and as people start to develop and progress, as we get closer to the end, I think we’re going to be a very, very exciting team to watch and it should be a good year.”
The squad opens NorWOSSA play this coming Monday (Sept. 25) in Dryden against the Eagles.