Provincial berths on the line for Crusaders and Marauders

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Ethan Wandzura smashes the ball into play for the St. Mary Marauders during a game on their home court last weekend.

Carlton to host 5A boys regional Saturday while girls’ teams will compete in Lloydminster

With just two spots at this year’s SHSAA 5A provincial volleyball championships coming from the north region this year, there’s an extra bit of pressure on the Carlton Crusaders and the St. Mary Marauders boys’ and girls’ volleyball programs this weekend.

“Those semifinal matchups on Saturday mean so much more now,” Crusaders boys’ head coach Curtis Bender said. “In previous years, you knew that you could regroup and bounce back with a win in the bronze medal game to earn a spot in the provincials, but that’s not the case this year.

“There’s a lot of good teams in our region and I think the intensity is going to be amped up this weekend.”

The Crusaders are playing host to a six-team tournament Saturday, which will feature the Marauders, Warman Wolverines, Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans, North Battleford Vikings and the Lloydminster Barons.

Carlton is in Pool B with the Spartans and Vikings, while St. Mary will square off with the Wolverines and Barons.

“I thought we had a good three days of practice this week, especially when it came to working on some parts of our offence that we didn’t quite execute on during our mini-tournament last weekend,” Marauders head coach Rene Quintal said. 

“I really like the way our team is playing right now,” Bender added. “We figured a few things out with our lineups during the St. Mary tournament and hopefully we’re trending in the right direction.”

The winners of the semifinals, which are slated to get underway at 4 p.m., will earn a spot at next week’s provincial championships in Regina.

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Grade 12 student Abbygail Larson prepares to make a serve for the Carlton Crusaders during a mini-tournament that was hosted by the St. Mary Marauders last weekend.

Over in Lloydminster, the Crusaders and Marauders girls’ teams will be taking part in a five-team round-robin tournament against the Vikings, Wolverines and the host Barons.

“I think we’re ready to go, especially after we recharged the batteries over this last week,” Marauders head coach Shaun Hunko said. “This is one of the strongest fields that we’ve seen at the regionals in a number of years, but if we play our style of game I think we’ll do fine.”

“We have some nagging injuries that we’re working through, but we’re all set for Saturday in Lloydminster,” Crusaders head coach Brooke Dallyn added. “All of the teams that are going to be there have beaten each other during tournaments this year, so every game is going to matter on Saturday.”

The top two teams in the standings will move on to next weekend’s provincials in Weyburn.

Meanwhile, the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute Golden Bears are hosting a 3A conference tournament on Saturday starting at 11 a.m.

Birch Hills and Senator Myles Venne will also be competing in the event, which will see all three teams advance to next weekend’s 3A East Regional tournament.