Volleyball teams shine at weekend tournaments

Both Muskie girls’ volleyball teams had impressive showings at tournaments last weekend, with the juniors taking top spot in Dryden while the seniors placed third in Kenora.
The juniors cruised to a 9-1 record in the 10-game round-robin, then won the championship with a 15-6 and 15-11 win over a Dryden split squad in the final.
Head coach Struchan Gilson said he was pleased with his team’s effort, particularly the play of Siobhan Devlin and Amy Wilson.
“Our whole team played real well,” he said. “It was fluid, our passing to our setters [and then] to our hitters, who hammered [the ball] to the floor.”
Gilson said while his veteran players continue to lead the way, it’s been the play of his rookies that has him optimistic for the rest of the season.
“They’ve really developed,” he enthused.
As for the senior squad, which has struggled at times early this season, things may have finally come together at last weekend’s tournament.
The Muskies earned 10 out of a possible 14 points in the seven-game round-robin to finish tied for second place with Kenora in total points.
But because Kenora had scored more points against the black-and-gold in their head-to-head match (a 15-8/6-15 split), the Muskies were relegated to the third place while the Broncos advanced to the final against Dryden.
“The girls came together really well and our serving percentage was way up,” said co-coach Carolyn Spencer.
Spencer said she was most impressed by the way the team rebounded from a three-game sweep against top-ranked Dryden in NorWOSSA action here last Thursday to earn a split with the Eagles at the tournament.
After losing the first game 15-13, the Muskies pulled out a 16-14 victory in the second one.
“[It was] a monumental difference,” said Spencer, comparing the two Dryden games. “In terms of the fact we beat Dryden one game, it’s a huge win.
“We played [poorly] Thursday and then we came out Friday, and they played like a whole new team,” she enthused. “It was really impressive.”
Spencer said the key was the Muskies’ ability to shut down the offensive talent of Crystal Thomas, who dominated the black-and-gold in the NorWOSSA match last week.
“We sent two people on the cross-court block to give her the line ’cause she can’t hit as well down the line, and it was frustrating her big time,” said Spencer.
“Then she was trying to hit from the weak side, and we were blocking her cross-court weak side” she added. “In general, we were just stopping her.”
Spencer stressed the tournament should do well for the team’s confidence, especially since the squad drew the unenviable task of playing Dryden in their first two matches.
“Going to the tournament and playing other teams, and gaining their own confidence, [should help us] because I think it was hard playing Dryden without playing anyone else,” she remarked.
“Because when they lose the first match, then they’re done mentally and their whole mental attitude changed because of this tournament.
“Now they’ve proved to themselves that they can [win].”