Sr. spikers scrambling to replace injured setter

Dan Falloon

The Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team hasn’t even seen game action yet but an injury already is throwing a wrench into its plans.
Veteran setter Mikaela Kroeker, expected to be a cornerstone of the squad, was injured last week. And that has head coach Duane Roen scrambling to fill the position before the team starts NorWOSSA play next Tuesday here against Dryden.
Roen will slot players across the court at a tournament at Westgate (Thunder Bay) this weekend in order to determine his ideal lineup.
“Right now, we’re kind of scrambling to find our setters that we’re going to be using for this weekend and next week, so that’s been a bit of an issue,” he said.
“That’s been a bit of an issue, and even today we’re going to be trying someone else coming through,” he noted.
“We have one setter and a couple of brand new kids who have never been in the setting position, ever.”
Roen explained the setter position is a key one to kick-start the offence, so he hopes to find a solution to fill the gap until Kroeker is ready to return.
“At the senior level, it’s tough not having that veteran that’s going to walk out onto the court and run plays and run the team,” he admitted.
“This weekend, for us, is going to be having players try a variety of positions.
“[We’ll] see what works, see what doesn’t, so when we hit our first league game next week, we can be better equipped for that,” he reasoned.
While dealing with auditioning setters, Roen said the team is placing a great emphasis on playing an effective basic game as opposed to planning anything too elaborate.
“Right now, because we’re having a bit of a setter issue, we’re just dealing with our fundamentals and just making sure we’re getting our sets so we can have an offence,” he explained.
“It’s a bit of a slow start for us this year.
“I’m assuming after we get a weekend of play in, I’ll have a better idea of where to go from there,” Roen added.
After their match with Dryden on Tuesday, the black-and-gold then will visit Kenora on Dec. 16 before breaking for Christmas.
Despite the setback at setter, Roen is thrilled his players have a wide variety of skills, so Fort High will be able to provide something slightly different this season.
“It’s a good, solid team,” he lauded. “We’ve got some height, we’ve got some speed, and some power in there, as well.
“We have some very tall, aggressive middles, so I think we’re going to be strong there with height.
“We also have some power hitters that can jump like crazy and swing at the ball,” he added.
“We need to work a little bit in that area,” Roen conceded. “[But] I do believe our blocking and our middle attack is going to be strong as the season goes on.”
The Muskies feature a squad of five veterans who will be expected to boost the team, although the newcomers from the junior program seem ready to step up.
“Some of my veterans are coming back,” Roen said. “I have Chelsea Hill, Rebecca Armit, Sara Roach, Megan Veniot, and Mikaela Kroeker.
“I’ll be looking for leadership with those girls who have played at the senior level before,” he stressed.
“[But] I have a few girls playing well in Grade 11 that should certainly stand up to the challenge of the season,” he continued.
“I’m looking forward to getting those kids into position and running some plays with them as the season goes on.”
Roen acknowledged Fort High will be in tough this weekend in Thunder Bay as most teams already have had game action.
However, the key to the tournament is just getting that first look at the squad and making adjustments from there.
“The first tournament is all about player position and getting them accustomed to the senior level of play, and to see what kind of team we have,” Roen remarked.
“Once we get these kinks ironed out and I get a few setters in here that are comfortable in that position, then I think we’ll do fine.
“I think we’ll have a good season,” he predicted.