Ethan McCluskey’s return to the Pen High Lakers senior boys volleyball lineup was highlighted by a three-set sweep of the NorKam Saints in Kamloops. The Lakers took the games on Monday 25-19, 25-8, 25-18.
“They played pretty well in parts but are still working on some of the finer points of the game (hit coverage, mental preparation),” said Lakers coach Scott Harkness.
McCluskey, who has recovered from a torn meniscus in his knee that had him rehabbing for six months, was a bright spot for the visitors.
“I think Ethan played really well,” said Harkness. “His mobility still needs some work but overall he looks good. He has been working incredibly hard in order to get back playing.”
Harkness described McCluskey as a great leader on the court. Having him back is a real big boost. The Lakers coach also likes the timing of McCluskey’s arrival as they have two tournaments before valleys and provincials.
Two areas the Lakers will focus on for the Thompson Rivers University tournament in Kamloops this weekend is hit coverage and mental preparation. Harkness said when it comes to playing teams that put up good blocks, it’s important to be able to dig them up to continue rallies.
“It’s easy when the ball is on the other side to relax and watch the play unfold,” he said. “However, our guys need to anticipate the ball coming over. It is too late to just react. They are getting better at this but it will be a continual work in progress. Doing the little things correctly will be what separates the top teams.”
Harkness said the weekend is a real test for them. He wants his players vocal, working hard and minimizing unforced errors. If they do that and improve their touch control, he feels his team will perform.
“The guys are really looking to playing this weekend as a full team of 12 (first time this season),” he said. “There will be a lot of the top teams in the province so it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds.”
Today, the Lakers will host the Rutland Voodoos at 7 p.m. Late last week, the Lakers played the No. 8 ranked Mt. Boucherie Bears and won in five sets. Dylan Ames played outstanding.
The Lakers are currently ranked No. 4 in the province after defeating Earl Marriot and Handsworth during the Kelowna Secondary School Best of the West tournament. The Lakers will also play today at 5:30 p.m. then host a Halloween Bash this weekend. No. 1 ranked KSS and No. 6 ranked South Kamloops will be among the teams competing.