The Muskie senior girls’ volleyball team kicked off their NorWOSSA schedule against the team that ended last year’s season.
The black-and-gold were unable to get revenge on the Dryden Eagles, however, falling 3-0 on the road last Monday (Dec. 14) by scores of 25-11, 25-11, and 25-23.
The squad did rebound the following day, scoring a 3-1 victory over the visiting Kenora Broncos (23-25, 25-20, 25-16, and 25-12) to head into the Christmas break with a 1-1 record in league play.
Head coach Duane Roen referred to Dryden as the regional “powerhouse”—and seemed sure the road to the all-Ontarios will lead through that town at one point or another.
“Dryden makes very few mistakes, so what we always have to do is minimize our mistakes and make sure we can get that ball up to the setter so we can run offence against them,” Roen noted.
“I find playing against Dryden, teams usually end up playing defence against them.
“And they’re a strong-hitting team, and they’re good at defence, so you need to force an offence against them if you want to score points,” he remarked.
The Muskie bench boss did point out one advantage the Muskies have over the Eagles heading into the campaign.
“We certainly have some height,” said Roen. “As far as height goes, against Dryden anyhow, we have the upper hand there.
“So we need to try to use that to the best of our ability to block their big hits, and to get around their blocks so we can run our offence.”
In particular, Roen pointed out 5’11” Grade 11 student Chelsea Hill as a potential force down the middle.
“Hopefully, she’ll be a good asset for us by the end of the season, where she can understand the system and get a little more confidence out on the court playing against these stronger players,” he said.
“I’m hoping that she can come around and adapt and get better.”
Roen also expects the team to be led by fifth-year hold-over Kayla Windigo, who was co-MVP as a starting setter last season.
“She’s high-energy and she’s out there all over the court, playing the best game she can, and hopefully the other players will follow her lead and take some chances and play hard,” Roen said.
“At this level, you have to,” he stressed. “You have to give everything you’ve got.
“Otherwise, you’re on the losing side of it.”
As for the younger players on the team, Roen admitted there will be a bit of a learning curve as he gets to know each girl’s strengths and weaknesses.
He won’t be the only one studying, though, as the rookies also will have to pick up new things about playing for him.
“We’re still trying to develop where we want some of these Grade 11s to play for the season, so that’s still going to take a bit of time,” said Roen.
“We have pretty good athletes, there are just a few things we’ve got to fix up, some of the arm swings,” he noted.
“And they have to learn a new system when they play for me, different from the junior team, so that’s all going to take a little while.”
Roen said he expects the second-year seniors to help him bring the younger ones along to where they need to be.
“They have a leadership role this year,” he remarked.
“I’m hoping they lead by example, and get out there and show them what it takes to play at this level, and I think I have quite a few that are willing to do that,” he enthused.