New season begins for Crusaders and Marauders senior girls volleyball programs

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Maya Soles makes a play at the net for the Carlton Crusaders during a 12-team senior girls’ volleyball tournament at Carlton over the weekend.

While students at Carlton Comprehensive High School and École St. Mary High School were getting back in the swing of things in the classroom last week, it was a frantic schedule for the senior girl volleyball teams.

After a quick tryout process, the Carlton Crusaders and the St. Mary Marauders opened up their 2019 schedule over the weekend with a 12-team tournament at the Carlton Physical Athletic Complex.

“It was a whirlwind of a week for us,” Marauders head coach Shaun Hunko said. “We picked our team on Thursday and had a 45-minute practice session before we started the tournament the following day, but there were a lot of positives that we gained out of the week.

“That first tournament is great for us as coaches,” Crusaders head coach Brooke Dallyn added. “The girls get to play in a lot of games and it really gives you a better idea of what the strengths are for each player as they get put into different situations.”

It was a strong weekend for both teams, as the Marauders reached the tournament final before losing in three sets to the St. Joseph Guardians of Saskatoon, while the Crusaders reached the semifinal round before being ousted by the Guardians.

“I think we realized just how much depth we have on our team this weekend,” Hunko said. “We also worked from adversity, especially in the semifinal against Lanigan as we came out slow and lost the first set, but we came back and won after finding our game.”

“I thought everyone played well this weekend, including our Grade 10 girls team that also took part in the tournament,” Dallyn added. “There were a few surprises as well as everyone’s getting used to playing at this level.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Shelaine Pritchard prepares to serve for the St. Mary Marauders on Friday afternoon.

The goal for both sides is to make another trip to the SHSAA 5A provincials, which will be held in Weyburn later this fall.

The Crusaders finished in fourth place at last year’s tournament in Saskatoon, while the Marauders lost in the quarter-final to the eventual champion Campbell Tartans of Regina.

“We have quite a few returning players from last year and we also have quite a few Grade 9 players that are making the jump for us,” Dallyn said. “It doesn’t always work out that way that we have that many Grade 9’s on the team, but they were the perfect fit for the positions that we needed to fill.

“Although we are still a fairly young team, many of our Grade 11 players have a lot of experience, “ Hunko said. “I think that really played to our advantage this weekend as that first tournament is one where you are kind of flying by the seat of your pants at times.”

Both teams will be at a tournament in Warman this weekend before taking part in a 16-team event at St. Mary on Sept. 20 and 21.