Junior spikers rally for victory


Talk about a comeback.
After losing the first two sets by identical 25-23 scores, the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team definitely found itself in a hole last Thursday against the visiting Dryden Eagles.
But the black-and-gold stormed back, winning the next two sets by scores of 26-24 and 25-18 before taking the fifth-and-deciding one 16-14.
With the win, the squad improved to 5-1 in NorWOSSA play to sit atop the standings going into its final two matches of the regular season.
“Going into the third set, I told the boys during our huddle that we needed to dig deep; we need to look forward and take the next three sets,” head coach Amy Wilson-Hands said yesterday in an e-mailed response to the Times.
“They dug in and won the next three sets.
“Our mental performance was outstanding during our fifth set as we were down 13-14 at one point,” she noted.
“A time-out was called and I told them just go point by point, settle in and play,” Wilson-Hands added.
“They didn’t look back and we won by a score of 16-14.”
Wilson-Hands said Chandler Borger (left side) had the best game of his high school career.
“He ran the hardest pipe attack I have ever seen in NorWOSSA play,” she noted.
“His hitting, all around, was on point. He worked hard all game.”
Meanwhile, Reed Bodnar (libero) did a great job of stabilizing the defence, Wilson-Hands said.
“He has a flawless platform and his ability to dig a hard-driven hit into a ‘three’ pass is incredible,” she lauded.
“He is a huge reason why our setters are able to run our offensive systems.”
As for what the team still needs to work on?
“We definitely need to work on our communication,” Wilson-Hands admitted. “It is the biggest part of the game and that is the biggest area that we need to work on.
“When we are communicating with one another, we minimize our errors and all of our systems work,” she noted.
“The moment we do not communicate, we are scrambled and a bit chaotic and in this game, lack of communication can be the end of it for us,” she stressed.
The squad then was split into two teams for a tournament in Dryden this past Friday and Saturday.
Team White went on to win the bronze medal after sweeping the Westgate Tigers (Thunder Bay) by scores of 25-13 and 25-19.
But Team Black lost out in its first playoff match, falling in straight sets to the Hammarskjold Vikings (Thunder Bay).
“The great thing about tourney play is we divide our team up into two smaller teams so all of the athletes are getting a lot more playing time, which results in a lot more touches,” Wilson-Hands said.
“We use each tournament as development,” she added. “It gives the coaching staff a chance to see what each player needs to work on, as well as what we need to work on as a whole team.
“Regular league play is a bit more stressful as every team’s ultimate goal is to finish on top of the league standings so you are in the NorWOSSA championship game,” Wilson-Hands explained.
“So with that comes some strategy on the coaching staff’s part.”
Seniors fall
It was the complete opposite story for the Muskie senior boys’ volleyball team here last Thursday versus the Eagles.
The black-and-gold jumped out to a 2-0 lead by scores of 25-17 and 25-16 but then lost the next three sets (20-25, 21-25, and 6-15) to drop to 2-4 in NorWOSSA play.
“We started off very strong in the first and second sets, then stopped communicating and started playing poorly in the last three,” co-coach Jason Cain said yesterday via e-mail.
“A lot of mental mistakes are to blame.
“The boys need to stop focusing on the scoreboard and work hard for every point,” he stressed.
Cain cited team communication, tip coverage, and consistency when serving as areas the squad need to work on going into its last two matches of the regular season.
Both squads resumed NorWOSSA play today (Oct. 25) against the visiting Kenora Broncos, then will close out the regular season Tuesday (Oct. 31) in Dryden.
The NorWOSSA playoffs are set for Nov. 7 in Kenora.
“Everything we do in the season is for that day,” Cain said, referring to the NorWOSSA playoffs.
“The guys are focused on Nov. 7 and should be at the top of their game come NorWOSSA.”
As for the juniors, Wilson-Hands said the team needs to stay focused and hungry for the NorWOSSA championship.
“If we all have the same goal and drive, I believe that we will be unstoppable,” she remarked.