Junior spikers win consolation title

Dan Falloon

The Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team took a little consolation in Winnipeg, as they were able to upset a Top 10 squad from the Manitoba High Schools Athletic Association.
Fort High downed the third-ranked John Taylor Pipers in the consolation final of the Sturgeon Heights Huskies tournament in over the weekend, a feat after losing some close matches to other ranked opponents.
The black-and-gold opened the tournament with a 2-0 (25-15 and 27-25) win over the host Huskies, but then ran into some road blocks.
Fort High dropped its next matched 2-0 (25-13 and 25-14) to fifth-ranked Dakota, 2-1 (25-16, 22-25 and 15-5) to second-ranked Miles Macdonnell and 2-0 (25-22 and 27-25) to fourth-ranked Lord Selkirk.
Head coach John Gibson felt that his team came together over the weekend, culminating with the upset victory over the Pipers.
“We came in there knowing that we’d be playing against some tough teams and tough competition, but our boys really improved over the course of the weekend, particularly with defence,” observed Gibson.
“Our blocking was that much stronger, and going against better hitting teams, they had to, to slow the pace of the ball and to be able to get them back up.”
Being able to take a set from powerhouse Miles Mac is an impressive feat, and Gibson was also impressed with how close the team was to taking both against the highly-touted Royals as well.
“That afternoon game that we played against Selkirk, our right-side blockers did a great job, both Tyler [Ruppenstein] and Lucas [Koomans],” he lauded.
“Our middles were getting over and closing up the blocks, so we had two guys outside on virtually every attack which was awesome, because that helped us push that game.
“We had two really close games, and that was really mostly because of our defence being so strong,” he concluded.
As for the playoff game against John Taylor, Gibson had a plan from observing their play earlier in the tournament, and was able to get the players to execute it well.
“We knew going in they were going to set the balls outside, and because our guys had really gotten good at getting outside, in the last two sets, we were able to get outside and put up blocks on those as well,” he recalled.
The Muskies returned to action yesterday against the Kenora Broncos, dropping a tough 3-2 (12-25, 27-25, 25-19, 9-25 and 15-2) decision.
The loss dropped Fort High to 5-2 on the year heading into tomorrow’s season-closer against Dryden.
A win would put the Muskies in position to clinch a first-place bye into the NorWOSSA final while the Eagles and Broncos battled it out for the second spot in the final.
Gibson projected before yesterday’s match that his squad will make the championships one way or another, and are expecting to find the Eagles defending the other court.
“The way the season has set up, we’re looking to be playing Dryden in the finals. We think that’s how it’s going to finish off,” said Gibson.
“This is kind of our last warm-up, so to speak, before the finals, and Thursday’s game will be important in determining who finishes first and who finishes second in the league.
“It’s our last chance to really run full tilt and get everything ironed out,” he added.
The biggest thing Gibson hoped to work on was making sure that when the opponent scored, that it was a deserved point.
“We’re still a little inconsistent,” he admitted.
“We saw that with some missed serves that we really don’t want to see at the end of the season. We don’t want to be giving away any points.”