Muskie spikers aim to pull off surprises

Lucas Punkari

While her team may not have beaten the Dryden Eagles during the regular season, the confidence that Muskie senior girls’ volleyball player Megan Veniot extolled heading into the NorWOSSA playoffs this Friday in Kenora spoke volumes.
“We’ve been saving everything for them and we’re going to absolutely destroy them,” Veniot predicted.
“We’re going to pull out a bunch of new tricks and they’re not even going to know what’s hitting them,” she vowed.
But if the senior spikers want a chance to take on the perennial front-running Eagles in the NorWOSSA final, they’ll first have to defeat the host Broncos in the semi-final late Friday morning.
Fort High and Kenora squared off in their regular-season finale here last Wednesday, which the host Muskies took in four sets—a big victory following a three-set loss in Dryden a day earlier.
“We weren’t hitting the ball at Dryden, and you have to do that against them in order to be successful,” Muskie head coach Duane Roen stressed.
“We started off a little bit slow against Kenora, but we played a stronger game than they did offensively,” he noted.
“So if we keep doing that, we will be fine as we get ready for NorWOSSA.”
Last Wednesday’s match also was an emotional one for five members of the Muskie roster as Mikaela Kroeker, Chelsea Hill, Sara Roach, Rebecca Armit, and Veniot all were suiting up for the final time on their home court.
“We’re all graduating this year and heading off to either college or university, so this [was] our last chance to be a Muskie,” Veniot said after Wednesday’s game.
“Just playing in the court today and realizing that it was for the very last time, it was really sad.”
Both Roen and Veniot feel that if they’re is to be successful Friday, they will need to focus on their mental approach to the day’s contests.
“The mental aspect will be the main thing,” Roen remarked.
“We’ll also need to make sure that we keep the ball in play, keep our feet moving, and just play the best that we can,” he reasoned.
“We just want to keep our energy level up and have a positive attitude the entire time,” echoed Veniot.
“Sometimes our team gets down on each other and that’s not the best thing because volleyball is 80 percent mental and 20 percent skill,” she conceded.
“So the more positive that we are out there, the better our team plays.”
As for the junior spikers, they’ll be looking to gain a measure of revenge over the Broncos this Friday when they square off in the NorWOSSA semi-final after Kenora beat the black-and-gold in four sets here last Wednesday.
“We played well in the first set, but we made about eight serving errors so that was probably the thing that led to us going down,” noted head coach Jason Cain.
“We kept making more and more errors, and we got caught on the net a lot, which is something that hasn’t happened to us a lot this year.
“At that point, it started to get into everyone’s head and it started to work away at them,” Cain admitted.
With Dryden waiting to meet the semi-final winner later Friday, Cain feels that if his team can get by the Broncos, they could have a solid chance against the Eagles.
“They’re the hardest team in the league to face, but we play much better against Dryden than we do against Kenora,” Cain explained.
“Against Dryden, we know where the hitters are going to be, and they’re very consistent servers so we’ll know where things are going to end up.
“We can’t seem to pattern something together against Kenora, though, because they serve all over the place and we have no idea where the ball is going to end up,” Cain said.