Everything that could go wrong for the Muskie boys’ volleyball teams last season did.
Both the seniors and juniors struggled en route to winless NorWOSSA seasons a year ago, but look primed for a rebound with more depth and experience on both rosters going into the 2009 campaign.
Proof of that potential shone through in the juniors’ season-opener yesterday in Dryden, where the young team swept the host Eagles by scores of 25-20, 25-21, and 25-17.
“Dryden has a strong hitting team. When they connect on the ball, it’s tough to get up,” coach Duane Roen remarked.
“But we’re playing better as a team right now,” he added. “We’re moving the ball around and forcing their big hitters to have to pass the ball.”
The juniors were coming off a gold-medal showing at the Kenora Invitational tournament over the weekend, claiming the title with a three-set victory over the Eagles’ Grade 10 squad.
“We had seven Grade 9s last year, and they came a long ways and grew a few inches this past summer,” Roen reasoned for the stark turnaround from last season.
“We had one not return, but the six coming back came to the summer camp Bob [Kowal] and I put on and showed a dedication to the game,” he noted.
“They want to get better.
“They learned a lot at the camp this summer and they are committed to this game, and to see them all come back with such enthusiasm after a tough season last year is great,” Roen enthused.
Returning players Dylan Roen, Jake Hawley, Brandon Sinclair, Brandon McGinnis, Bryson Skirten, and Gavin Moorhouse look to be motivated to improve on last season’s disappointment.
The Muskie seniors, meanwhile, are optimistic of a turnaround in their own right with an eight-pack of players back in the fold.
Talbot Johnson will lead a senior crop that also includes Kurtis Hill, Jesse Ranville, Aaron Oakes, Justin Anderson, Steve Romaniuk, Rodney Spencer, and Brent George.
Chris Legg also is back after spending his Grade 11 year on an exchange in Costa Rica.
Grade 11 players Bradeon Keast, Jeff Gustafson, Nathan Bujold, Anniss Seid, and Tim Jim make up the rest of the squad.
On a sour note, the squad opened the NorWOSSA season in similar fashion to a year ago, falling 3-1 to the host Eagles yesterday by scores of 19-25, 25-20, 20-25, and 18-25.
The seniors finished with a 1-2-1 record at the Kenora Invitational, losing to the host Broncos in the playoffs by scores of 25-22, 18-25, and 8-15.