The St. Mary Marauders senior boys’ volleyball team has made an excellent first impression for head coach Rene Quintal.
In their opening event of the 2019 season, the Marauders returning players won their home tournament over the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans Saturday, while a squad of Grade 10 and 11 players from the senior team ended up in fifth place.
“I was really happy with how our teams played, which also included another team made up of just Grade 10 players and our Senior B team,” Quintal said. “We had 50 students out there on the court and they all got a great opportunity to show what they can do.
“When it comes to our team that won, I thought they played really well in their last two games. They had a really good battle with a strong serving team from Swift Current in the semifinal and then Meadow Lake had a hard time trying to slow down our offence in the final.”
With eight players graduating from last year’s team that hosted the SHSAA senior boys’ provincial championship, there are a number of new faces on the Marauders rosters.
“Right now, I think one of our biggest strength is going to be our defence,” Quintal said.
“When I look at how our split-squad teams played over the weekend, they really committed to playing well on that side of the ball and they were determined to keep the ball from hitting the floor.”
Crusaders building towards regionals
Meanwhile, the Carlton Crusaders also opened up their tournament season at St. Mary and came away with a seventh place finish.
“We have a young group so I was happy to get everybody out the court this weekend,” Crusaders head coach Curtis Bender said.
“We have a lot of Grade 11 players this year and only two Grade 12s, so we have a lot of guys getting used to new roles. They aren’t afraid to be aggressive out there and I think that’s going to help us be among the top teams in the province.”
Both programs, who will be competing at a 24-team tournament at the University of Saskatchewan this weekend, will be building towards a 5A North region tournament that will hosted by Carlton on Nov. 9.
The top two teams from that event will then advance to the provincials in Regina the following weekend.
“That extra bit of familiarity of that regional being in our home gym will be nice to have, especially with the support that I’m sure we’re going to see for both teams from our community,” Bender said.
The North Battleford Vikings, Warman Wolverines and the Lloydminster Barons are all slated to compete in the regional tournament.