Saturday’s meeting between the St. Mary Marauders and the Regina LeBoldus Golden Suns marked the first time that the two senior boys’ volleyball programs had squared off this season.
Unfortunately for the Marauders, it also marked the last time this year that the squad would take to the court for a competitive match.
In a SHSAA 5A boys’ quarter-final game on their home gym, the Marauders saw their campaign come to an end after dropping a three-set affair (25-20, 20-25 and 8-15) to the Golden Suns.
“LeBoldus did a good job on the service line to put pressure on our defence,” Crusaders head coach Rene Quintal said. “As the match went on, I thought their defence was a little better than ours and it forced us to back off a little bit.
“With that said, I thought our guys did a great job of staying in the match, especially in the third set. We were down 5-2 but we clawed our way back to tie things up at six, until they pulled away for good.”
The Marauders finished round-robin play earlier in the day with a 3-1 record after a win over the Riffel Royals of Regina, which put the tournament hosts in a three-way tie in Pool A with the Saskatoon Holy Cross Crusaders and the Balgonie Greenall Griffins.
With the head-to-head records putting the teams at 1-1 against each other, a set loss to the Yorkton Raiders proved costly as it would put the Marauders in third place, while the Griffins earned top spot thanks to their win over the Crusaders Saturday morning.
“I thought we played well in the round-robin as the only sets we lost came in really close games,” Quintal said.
“We did a good job with our serves all weekend, but I felt like we lightened up our attack a little bit in our only loss against Holy Cross.”
Meanwhile, the Golden Suns earned their spot in the playoffs after posting a 3-1 record in the round-robin to finish second in Pool B behind the defending provincial champion Swift Current Colts.
“I thought we took a bit of a step back early against St. Mary compared to how we played in the round-robin,” Golden Suns coach Ryan DeCosse said.
“As the match went on, the guys bought in and became more mentally engaged out there. They played harder on defence and they created a lot of energy.”
Although eight players will be graduating from the Marauders program, Quintal believes those who are returning to the team next season will gain valuable experience from serving as the hosts for a provincial championship.
“The biggest message that we left with them was a reminder that every point matters,” Quintal said. “It’s always important to put pressure on the opponents and not having to fight our way back from big deficits.
“One of the things we really plan to focus next year is to have a sound fundamental base that we can build on from the start of the season, instead of having to reteach certain elements as the year goes on.”
The gold medal matchup will take place at St. Mary at 5:45 p.m. between Balgonie Greenall and Swift Current.
Regina LeBoldus and the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans will matchup in the bronze medal contest at 4:45 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Carlton Crusaders’ girls team were playing for a bronze medal this afternoon against the Weyburn Eagles at the 5A provincials in Saskatoon.
After finishing 3-1 in Pool B play, the Crusaders defeated the Swift Current Ardens in the quarter-final before dropping a semifinal affair to the host Holy Cross Crusaders.
The Crusaders will take on the Regina Campbell Tartans in the gold medal game this evening.
The St. Mary Marauders saw their quest for a second straight provincial title end in the quarter-final with a loss to the Tartans.
They finished in fourth place in Pool A with a 1-3 record and entered the playoffs with a win Saturday morning over the Regina Winston Knoll Wolverines.