Back on the tournament trail

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald Kalci Gusdal rises in the air to spike a ball for the Carlton Crusaders during a semi-final game against the North Battleford Vikings during the Crusaders’ home tournament in September.

Only a couple of days after they returned to the classroom, the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders senior girls volleyball teams were getting back into the swing of things on the court.

Both schools brought a pair of teams to the Carlton Physical Activity Centre this past weekend for a 10-team tournament that was hosted by the Crusaders.

“As coaches, this is always a busy time of the year for us as there’s a lot of girls from all grades coming out for tryouts,” Marauders coach Shaun Hunko said. “We went from 100 players to 27 for this weekend and we’re really happy with how things went.”

“There’s a lot of the same faces from Grade 11 and 12, but when you have 60 players coming out from Grade 9 and 10, it takes a bit of time to get know everyone,” Crusaders coach Brooke Dallyn added. “Being able to see them play on our home court for our first tournament is great for us as coaches as it helps us determine who will be on our main roster for the rest of the season.”

The Carlton 1 team made it to the semifinal where they lost to the eventual champion North Battleford Vikings, while the Carlton 2 squad won the consolation bracket over the Marion Graham Falcons of Saskatoon.

“Even though this was their first time playing together all year, I thought that both teams played really well,” Dallyn said. “Everyone got a lot of court time over the course of the weekend and that was one of our main goals.”

Lucas Punkari/Daily Herald
Ryla Iron prepares to serve for the St. Mary Marauders during a tournament game at Carlton Friday.

Meanwhile, the St. Mary 1 team made it to the quarter-final round before losing to Carlton 1, while the St. Mary 2 squad suffered a loss to the Falcons in the consolation semifinal.

“We had a number of younger girls out there so you could see there were a little bit of nerves during the first few games,” Hunko said. “However, they really settled in and showed what they could do in every match, so we’re happy with the weekend.”

Both schools will be at a tournament in Warman this weekend and will be competing at St. Mary’s tournament next weekend as they gear up for the 5A girls’ provincial championships in Saskatoon in November.

“It’s a process every week as we keep trying to get better and better,” Hunko said. “You hope that the girls learn from their mistakes and gain experience from game situations so that they can be in the mix to go to the provincials.”

“Everyone’s rusty at this time of the year as they get back from the summer vacation but you want to make sure everyone on the team is coming together early on,” Dallyn added. “It’s important to build that chemistry as it really helps to get the best performance out of everyone.”

Meanwhile, the Crusaders and Marauders senior boys’ volleyball teams will be in action this weekend for an 18-team tournament at St. Mary.