Muskie spikers ready for OFSAA

Jamie Mountain

The Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team has been the best in Northwestern Ontario now two years in a row.

The black-and-gold was dominant in a sweep of the host Westgate Tigers in the best-of-three NWOSSAA championship on Friday, winning both matches in straight sets.

Fort High now advances to the OFSAA ‘AA’ championship for the second consecutive year, this time in Kingsville running March 9-11.

“We are lucky to have a dedicated group of athletes that are prepared to train and compete in our off-season, which has paid off tremendously,” Muskie head coach Duane Roen enthused.

“They have truly gelled as a team and have had to deal with issues and have come out stronger because of their dedication to the team.”

The Muskies will be looking at their defensive systems and discussing alternatives that they may need to enlist against the teams at OFSAA, Roen noted of the upcoming all-Ontarios.

“Our goals are to minimize errors, focus on positive plays and enjoy our time at OFSAA,” he remarked.

“The team is excited to go and compete with the best in the province. Our focus is to be the best team that we can be and see where that takes us this year.”

To get to OFSAA, the Muskies first had to get past the test of facing the Thunder Bay champ Tigers, which they passed with flying colours.

Fort High took Game 1 on Friday by set scores of 25-15 and 25-14. The Muskies also won the third exhibition set 25-15.

“Despite an early morning and four-hour bus ride, we maintained a positive attitude,” Roen stressed.

“We learned that Thunder Bay was having a P.A. day, meaning the Tigers all got to sleep in to prepare for our match. That being said, our team played extremely well against the Tigers. We had a game plan and executed that plan in both matches.”

The black-and-gold, who had advanced to NWOSSAA after sweeping the Dryden Eagles in the NorWOSSA final last Monday at Fort High, then booked their tick to OFSAA once again by finishing off the sweep of Westgate with wins of 25-18 and 25-19 later on Friday.

Fort High also won the third exhibition set 25-21.

“Westgate has a strong offence and were hitting well out of the middle and right side,” Roen recalled.

“We had to modify our blocking reach to adapt to the middles’ tendencies. Also, when their strong right side was in the front, we would sneak our middle over slightly to gain an advantage in sealing our block.

“We had to modify our serve receive a few times when their server was picking on one of our passers,” he noted.

“We are lucky to have such depth in this team that when modifications were necessary, they were successful in changing the momentum in our favour.”

One of the biggest thing that stood out to Roen about the Muskies’ performance at NWOSSAA against Westgate was that their serving was close to 90 percent over the two matches and that his players served aggressively.

He also felt it was by far some of the best serving from this team this year.

“We committed to running plays and being aggressive offensively, even when we had to give them a free ball,” Roen lauded.

“We wanted them to have to work constantly to stay in-system against us. Also, we remained calm throughout both matches.

“Being relaxed and confident in the big games is critical for success,” he reasoned.

“Our chatter both on the court and bench also added to the excitement. We were fortunate as well to have many parents and fans come out to support us.

“I think we may have been louder than the Thunder Bay crowd,” Roen mused.