The St. Mary Marauders went through the front door to earn a spot at this weekend’s SHSAA 5A boys’ provincial volleyball championships in Regina.
After clinching a berth with a semifinal victory over the Carlton Crusaders Saturday, the Marauders followed that up by winning the North Region tournament at Carlton with a three-set triumph over the Meadow Lake Carpenter Spartans.
“One of our goals this year was to make it back to the provincials, so we were really happy to win that last match and qualify,” Marauders head coach Rene Quintal said.
“We had contributions throughout the entire starting lineup all weekend, especially on offence. We didn’t have to rely on one person to get all of our points.”
According to Quintal, the best match of the weekend for the Marauders came in the final against the Spartans.
“We showed a lot of grit in that game,” Quintal said.
“We were down 8-6 in the third set and then we went on a bit of a run. We were getting a lot of our points on blocks and we had a 10-8 lead when they called a timeout.”
After winning back-to-back provincial titles in 2015 and 2016, the Marauders have suffered consecutive quarter-final setbacks at the provincials.
They fell in three sets to the Saskatoon Holy Cross Crusaders two years ago in Meadow Lake and were edged out by the Regina LeBoldus Golden Suns in another three-set thriller on their home court last November.
The Marauders have been placed in Pool A for the provincials, which get underway Friday.
They will be facing the Regina Campbell Tartans, Weyburn Eagles, Saskatoon Centennial Chargers and the defending 5A champion Balgonie Greenall Griffins.
“We haven’t played any of those teams this year, so it will be a new experience for us,” Quintal said. “We’ve seen Campbell, Weyburn and Centennial at tournaments, but we haven’t seen Balgonie at all.
“I think the competition is going to be very strong from top to bottom and all 10 teams will have a chance to win a medal.”
The Swift Current Colts, Regina Winston Knoll Wolverines, Saskatoon St. Joseph Guardians, the Golden Suns and the Spartans will also be at the tournament, which wraps up Saturday.
Semifinal showing for Crusaders
Although Carlton just missed out on making their first trip to the provincials since 2016, head coach Curtis Bender was pleased with their showing on Saturday.
“We had some really good flashes of play during the weekend and the boys should keep their heads up high,” Bender said.
“It’s too bad that there were only two spots that were available from our region this year, as I think we could have surprised some teams at the provincials.”
The Crusaders are set to return the majority of their roster next fall, as they’ll only lose Colby Goodvoice, Cam Daniels and Darius Waditaka to graduation.
“We’re pretty excited about the upcoming season,” Bender said.
“I think this weekend’s tournament will be a big help for our returning guys as they got that experience under their belt and they learned what it was like to be in a big match”