Tough start to season for Owls’ spikers

Jamie Mountain

The Rainy River Owls’ senior and junior girls’ volleyball teams found out early on that it will take a big effort to get wins this season.
That was evident in their matches last week against the host Atikokan Voyageurs and Ignace Falcons in NorWOSSA ‘A’ action.
The senior Owls (0-2) dropped both of their matches, starting with a 3-0 loss to the Voyageurs last Wednesday before falling in five sets to the Falcons on Thursday.
“The first game of the season has always been tough, with the girls battling nerves,” noted Owls’ head coach Morning Star Tom.
“This season, we also have a number of girls in new positions.
“Changing the rotation and switching the defence on the receive improved our scores in the last two sets against Atikokan,” she added.
“The third set was a 25-23 loss.”
Tom said her squad really came together in the loss to the Falcons, where they traded set wins but fell just short in the fifth-and-deciding one, and that the communication on the court was a huge factor in their improvement.
“Our biggest challenge would be letting calls go and moving on, focusing on the next play,” she noted.
“There were a few calls by the linesman that were overturned by the head ref, which worked against us, so just getting the girls to really focus once a call is made.
“We need to just move on and focus on the next point,” Tom stressed.
“We have a small squad so it’s important that if a player is off, the other girls pull it together,” she added.
“This game they all played their part.”
Tom also noted Paige Stamler (setter) was taking control of the plays while Lilly Blakeney and Lynelle Westover were great at backing her up.
“Paige Anderson and Mackenzie Jolicouer are a strong force on the net, Aynsley Williams and Taytum Stone were digging them up on the back court, and Kayla Michl has always been consistent,” she enthused.
“I am very proud of how they played; they did what they were asked to do,” she added.
“Now we just need to clean it up.”
The Owls’ resume NorWOSSA action next week when they host the Red Lake Rams on Tuesday (Dec. 11) before welcoming the Sioux Lookout Warriors the following day.
Tom said making sure her squad is doing the little things–and doing them well–will be paramount to success in those matches.
“With the new scheduling, the two losses really have us in a bad position as we won’t be facing those teams again,” she noted.
“It is important the girls really work hard the remainder of the season.
“Our tournament next week will be a good chance for the team to get some play time in, and experience different levels of teams,” Tom added.
The junior squad, meanwhile, also was swept 3-0 by the Voyageurs last Wednesday but then rebounded in a big way to grab a 3-2 win over the Falcons the next day.
The Owls (1-1) had trailed 2-0 before fighting back to win the last three sets and claim the match.
They’ll also resume NorWOSSA action next week against the Rams and Warriors at RRHS.