Volleyball at the junior level is constantly a game of learning and adapting and the Muskie boys’ squad is learning what it is going to take to be successful this season.
The Muskies had a busy week last week, splitting a pair of games against the Sioux Lookout Warriors and Dryden Eagles in NorWOSSA play before competing at the annual Kenora Invitational Tournament co-hosted by the Broncos and St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (‘A’).
Fort High compiled a 1-3-1 record at the tourney in pool play on Friday before losing in the semifinals on Saturday.
“It was definitely tiring, but the more playing time the better. It didn’t seem to phase the boys much,” Muskie coach Terry McMahon said of his squad’s busy week last week.
“Settling into our new roles and being patient with ourselves while we learn the game,” is what he cited as the biggest challenges for the Muskies at the Kenora tournament.
“The team was pretty hard on themselves when they made mistakes, it’s really hard to play in that negative head space.”
Fort High opened tourney play on Friday with a 2-0 loss to the Saints (15-25/16-25) before rebounding with a sweep of the Broncos (25-9/25-9).
The black-and-gold then ended pool play with a split against the Eagles (18-25/25-23) before losing 2-0 to both the Warriors (20-25/18-25) and Pelican Falls Timberwolves (21-25/16-25).
But they rebounded with a 2-0 quarterfinal win Dryden on Saturday morning, with the set scores being 25-18 and 25-11.
Fort High then ended tourney play by falling to the Saints 2-0 in the semis by scores of 25-17 and 25-19.
The Muskies (2-1) had gone into the weekend fresh off a 2-0 win against the host Eagles in NorWOSSA play last Thursday.
Set scores were 26-24 and 25-23. The Eagles (1-2) won the third exhibition set 25-17 that didn’t factor into the actual outcome.
“Against Dryden, we knew our spots better, were a little more comfortable, and really cut down on our errors,” McMahon lauded.
“So it was a great bounce-back for the team.”
The Muskies had suffered their first loss of the season last Tuesday 2-1 in their home-opener against the unbeaten Warriors (3-0).
After winning the first set 25-22, the black-and-gold lost the final two sets by scores of 16-25 and 20-25.
“Well we had a bit of a team shake up, so most of the boys were playing new positions for the first time on short notice against Sioux,” McMahon noted.
“We basically started from the beginning again.”
McMahon said that he has most been impressed by his squad’s adaptability in the early-going this season. He feels his players have been learning a lot on the fly, having to play new positions, and they have taken it all in stride and continued to work hard.
“They’ve all impressed me with their game play, they’re all doing really good things,” he enthused.
“There were times this past weekend in games where we were clicking and the other teams had no answer for what we were doing. Our blocks were up, we were in the right spots defensively, we were aggressive on our offence, it was fun to watch.
“Now we just have to work on doing these things consistently,” he stressed.
“Which will come with more experience. There’s no doubt in my mind that we will put it all together.”
One area of concern for McMahon with his squad, however, has been serving and he feels they must improve in that area if they are to have any success against the visiting Broncos (0-3) this afternoon and moving forward in league play.
“It’s hard to win regardless of what you do on the court when you are missing six-to-eight serves per set,” he reasoned.
“I’d like the team to be more aggressive, take more chances. So we will try and get into that mindset and stay there going forward.”