Muskies set for playoffs Friday

You’ll have to forgive Muskie senior boys’ volleyball head coach Adrian Chapman for his overuse of sports clichés.
After all, the Muskies will host the NorWOSSA playoffs on Friday and all four court teams are aiming for gold medals.
“We know we can beat these guys,” Chapman said on his team’s prospects in the semi-final against Dryden. “We’re coming together as a team for the first time at the right time.
“This probably sounds clichéd but we believe in ourselves,” he added.
Even with a young team that sported just a 3-5 record in the regular season, the senior spikers are riding high after coming back to defeat the league-leading Kenora Broncos in five sets here Monday.
Chapman likes the Muskies’ odds against Dryden in the semi-final, despite the fact neither team was able to win on their home floor over the regular season.
Like their senior counterparts, the Muskie junior boys’ volleyball team find themselves with a sub .500 record (2-6) entering the playoffs Friday. But they’ll meet Kenora in the semi-final with the confidence they’ve earned their only two wins against them.
“We’ve seen glimpses all the time of some very, very strong volleyball out there,” said head coach Greg Ste. Croix. “I’m definitely liking what I’m seeing.
“We’ll use the upcoming practices wisely and be ready to go Friday.”
At the other end of the spectrum is the Muskie junior girls’ basketball team. The defending NorWOSSA champ went 6-2 over the regular season to earn a bye into the final Friday afternoon against the winner of the Dryden-Kenora semi-final.
“In this tournament, I don’t think it matters what your record is. All that goes out the window,” admitted head coach Mike Busch.
Led by Sarah Barton and Carly McCormick, the squad likes the uptempo style of game. But Busch said the wide learning curve of less-experienced players on both sides makes mistakes and turnovers a big part of almost every game.
The team’s calming element has come in the form of assistant coach Sarah Noonan.
The recent Muskie graduate has been lending her time at various practices and games throughout the year while preparing for her first season with the Rainy River Community College women’s basketball team.
“The girls have really responded to her well, which is probably because most of them watched her as a starter [on the senior team],” said Busch. “She’s a definite boost for this team.”
Noonan’s former team is perhaps the most inconsistent of the bunch heading into Friday’s playoffs.
The senior hoopsters racked up a 5-3 record but have left head coach Darren Johnson wincing on the sidelines at times with their poor stretches of play.
First-year guards Andrea Boileau and Christina Romaniuk have played well but Johnson said forwards Tricia Smith, Carling Barton, and Linda Zimmerman will have to hit their early shots if they hope to beat the taller Dryden team inside in their semi-final showdown.
“We always seem to have a tough time in the first half against the Eagles,” said Johnson.
Still, he said the senior Muskies are the defending NorWOSSA champions—until proven otherwise.
“In order to be the [NorWOSSA] champions, you have to go through the champions,” said Johnson. “I think this team can make a return to NWOSSAA.”
The semi-finals begin in both the small and large gyms at 10:30 a.m., followed by the finals in the large gym starting at 1:30 p.m. Spectators are welcome.
The NWOSSAA finals are scheduled Nov. 16 in Thunder Bay.