With a league title under its belt, the Muskie senior girls' volleyball team now is looking to prove its mettle against the St. Ignatius Falcons (Thunder Bay) at the best-of-three NWOSSAA championship, which runs this Friday and Saturday at Fort High.
The winner advances to the all-Ontarios, which are slated for March 4-6 in Ahmerstburg.
The top-ranked Muskies (7-1) swept the second-place Eagles in straight sets in the NorWOSSA final Friday in Kenora and are looking to continue that momentum this weekend at the “Fish Tank.”
“The St. Ignatius Falcons play a similar style to ours," Muskie head coach Duane Roen said. ”They have some height and strength on the left-side and middle.
“The last time we faced St. Ignatius in tournament play, we beat them in two-straight sets, so we need to continue to play our style and be able to adapt to changing circumstances,” he noted.
“Being aggressive but smart in our game play is a focus this week," Roen added. ”Staying healthy [also] is an ongoing battle this time of the year.
“Being able to run our offence, and stay aggressive throughout the match, is key to our success at NWOSSAA this weekend,” he stressed.
After taking the first set of the NorWOSSA final by a narrow 25-22 margin, it was much of the same the rest of the match as Fort High won the next two by scores of 25-21 and 25-23 to nab the gold medal and the berth at NWOSSAA.
Dryden had beaten the third-place Broncos in four sets in the semi-final earlier Friday (21-25, 25-12, 26-24, and 25-17) to advance against the Muskies.
The black-and-gold had the bye to the final by virtue of their first-place finish in the regular season.
“We were able to stay in system more often than Dryden,” Roen said of the Muskies' success in the final.
"There were a lot of nerves from both sides, which led to close scores and some unexpected ball movement at times.
“They play a solid defence and recycle the ball well,” he added of the Eagles.
“They are skilled at keeping us moving, making it tough to run our offence.”
The Muskies had suffered their only loss of the season to the Eagles in five sets in the regular-season finale there last Tuesday, but Roen felt like much of the damage was self-inflicted.
So gearing up to face them again in Friday's final wasn't much of an issue.
“The toughest opponent we faced last week against Dryden was ourselves,” he reasoned.
“Unforced errors at critical times gave Dryden the edge [last] Tuesday.”