Sr. spikers aim to stay the course

Jamie Mountain

You can’t win them all but the Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team tried its best to do so.
The black-and-gold claimed the silver medal at the “Winter Blast” tournament hosted by the Kenora Broncos with a hard-fought, three-set loss in Saturday’s final to the St. Thomas Aquinas Saints (Kenora) by scores of 22-25, 25-17, and 11-15.
“Minimizing unforced errors, aggressive serving and serve placement, impressive offence running a few new plays, and increasing the frequency of others,” Muskie head coach Duane Roen cited as the squad’s key to success at the tourney.
“The overall confidence level in what this team can accomplish when they work together has increased,” he noted.
The Muskies sat atop the NorWOSSA standings with a 5-0 record heading into yesterday afternoon’s match here against the second-place Dryden Eagles (the outcome not known as of press time).
Then they’ll cap the week tomorrow afternoon when they welcome the winless Kenora Broncos to the “Fish Tank.”
“We need to stay the course; we need to play the game we strive to perfect in practice,” Roen stressed.
“Really focusing on making each contact better and the final contact to do our best to score, or at least make the opponent struggle to run their offence against us,” he noted.
“Reading and being stopped to dig a bit hit is still a work in progress,” Roen conceded.
“Communication when we are in close quarters is minimal and we are caught watching as the ball hits the floor.
“We are having a lot of success so far but must not become complacent,” Roen stressed.
“Instead, we need to continue to push ourselves to be better.”
As for the weekend tourney in Kenora, the Muskies went undefeated in the round-robin in Pool ‘B’ play, which included wins over the host Broncos (25-17/25/15), St. Ignatius Falcons (25-20/25-11), Hammarskjold Vikings (25-22/25-10), and Rainy River Owls (25-10/25-15).
The black-and-gold then beat the St. Patrick Saints (Thunder Bay) 26-24 and 24-10 in Saturday’s quarter-final before ousting the Warriors in straight sets in the semi-finals by scores of 25-20 and 25-17 to earn the title shot against St. Thomas Aquinas.
“I think everyone made a positive contribution this weekend,” Roen lauded.
“Hailee Barnard and Alex Spuzak played very well [on the] left side, making better decisions and varying their choice of attack, which has had a positive result on the scoreboard.
“Pasquel Shortreed and Grace Petsnick controlled the blocking, and were able to move across the net from loops to quicks to slides effectively thanks to solid setting from Alina Eldridge,” he added.
Roen also noted Jamie Spencer and Samara Payne dominated the right side of the net–each contributing a different set of skills to score points.
“Gwen Macdonald has made it back after an ankle sprain before the holidays,” he said. “She continues to move her serves around, tricking the defence and scoring points.
“Her soft touch at the net with ball placement is effective at scoring for the team.
“The dynamic duo of Simone Payne and Katrina Slomke have been working together to provide solid offence and defence/serving,” Roen added.
“Simone has also stepped up in the offensive left-side role through smart ball placement and solid serve-receive.”
Roen also said Carmen Hebert continues to play an important role as the libero.
“She can step in and step up when needed to provide consistent passing for Alina,” he lauded.
“Rhonda DeGagne could not make the tournament this weekend but continues to improve in her role as a middle/left-side attacker,” he noted.