Senior Muskies spiked in Lakehead

Mitch Calvert

The Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team fell to the top-ranked St. Thomas Aquinas Saints in the opening round of the playoffs at the fourth-annual “Spike-Off” tournament at Westgate in Thunder Bay on Saturday.
The Muskies played well but dropped the first set 25-23. Head coach Duane Roen said his squad lacked consistency throughout the set as the lead went back and forth.
Then communication and serving errors sealed their fate in a 25-17 loss in the second set of the best-of-three match.
“We just have to work on our consistency because that’s basically our biggest problem right now,” Roen stressed. “We can take a lead and be doing really well, and then we get into a bit of a rut and let the other team take over.”
Roen said the wins and losses weren’t priority No. 1 as they focused more on perfecting techniques they’ve worked on in practice, and transferring them into game situations.
“We’re starting to run [a] different offence and plays, whereas last year we were mostly just focused on defence and getting it to the setter and basic stuff,” he noted.
“But the kids are running crosses and tandems . . . and we went to the tournament planning to try out these plays, and weren’t really concerned about winning every set.
“The idea of tournaments, at least to me, is to try these things out and see what works and what doesn’t, and it sets us up for practices this week,” Roen reasoned.
The black-and-gold had opened the tournament against the host Westgate Tigers, losing in straight sets (25-21 and 25-19). They split a pair of sets with the Hammarskjold Vikings (23-25/25-11), beat Manitouwadge (25-13/25-10), lost to Dryden (25-12/25-13), lost to Hillcrest (25-20/26-24), and then wrapped up the round-robin by beating Whitefish Bay (25-14/25-12).
The Dryden Eagles ended up capturing gold with a straight-set victory over St. Thomas (25-17/25-15).
“It’s strong volleyball in this area, so if you can take a set off some of these teams who are winning or coming close to winning OFSAA, that’s saying something,” Roen said.
“I’m happy with the kids,” he stressed. “We can see things to improve on, which is nice, because if we were playing our best and not doing so well, then I’d be a little frustrated.
“There’s lots of room for improvement and the kids know that.”
Lauren Gurski was named the team’s MVP for the tournament.
“Last year we only had one returning player at the senior level, and this year we are pretty evenly split between Grade 11s and Grade 12s, so a little more experience,” Roen noted.