Oh, so close

The Muskie senior boys’ volleyball team could taste victory. In fact, they were on the verge of savouring it.
Leading the Kenora Broncos 2-0 in their best-of-five showdown here last Wednesday to close out the NorWOSSA regular season (taking the first two games by scores of 25-19 and 25-17), the black-and-gold looked to be well on their way to victory.
Their hits were landing hard inside the line. Their passing was fluid. They were constantly up at the net making blocks.
Then, slowly in the third game, everything started to unravel–their blocks weren’t happening, their hits were going out of bounds, and the team lacked communication and intensity.
And Kenora took full advantage, first staving off defeat with a 25-21 win in the third game and then stealing the next two in dramatic fashion–27-25 and 18-16–to hand the Muskies their most disappointing loss of the season.
In fact, the Muskies actually were one point away from winning the fourth game at 25-24. They had the Broncos on their heels, hammering hit after hit at the opposition.
But with each hit, there was a return. And when the Muskies let a ball drop in front of them to lose the point, the momentum–and eventually the game–went with it.
In the fifth and decisive game, the Muskies trailed 15-14 when John Sivonen laced a powerful hit to tie the score. Kenora regained the lead at 16-15 but Sivonen nailed another big hit to knot things up again.
Kenora finally put the game out of reach by scoring the final two points.
Despite the disappointment of losing, last Wednesday’s match was the most exciting of the season, featuring several long rallies, powerful hits, and some outstanding digs.
“It was fun to watch,” Muskie head coach Adrian Chapman said afterwards.
The Muskies showed off their array of power from several positions. Sivonen had a strong match. So, too, did regulars like Evan Woodland, Jamie Algie, and Dan Mihichuk Jr.
The black-and-gold also got strong games from their bench, particularly Brennan Kilmister and Joel Walton.
“[That] was really good to see,” said Chapman. “The rest of the team sees it and it makes them work harder.”
Chapman said their problem, once again, was lack of consistency. The Muskies looked like world-beaters in the first two games, then–while they didn’t play too badly in the final three games–they couldn’t put it all together to win the match.
Looking ahead to Friday’s NorWOSSA playoffs in Dryden, Chapman hopes his team can gain confidence by beating the third-place Eagles in the semi-final and then carry that intensity into the final against Kenora.
Meanwhile, the junior spikers continued to struggle, closing out the regular season against first-place Kenora here last Wednesday with their eighth-straight loss.
The squad looked uninspired and lacked intensity in getting swept 25-12, 25-12, and 25-8.
Still, the Muskies have a chance to play spoiler when they face the second-place Dryden Eagles in the NorWOSSA semi-final there Friday, with the winner moving on to meet the Broncos.