Carlton Boys volleyball ready for season, host provincials on home court

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald. Carter Mullner of the Carlton Crusaders spikes a ball during warmups at Ecole St. Mary on Sept. 8, 2023

The Carlton Crusaders Boys’ volleyball are hoping for a little bit of home cooking this coming season.

The Crusaders will play host to the 5A Boys’ provincial volleyball championships Nov. 17-18 in their home gym.

Carlton head coach Curtis Painter says the Crusaders will focus on improving every weekend leading up to provincials.

“Every weekend, the goal is to get better. That’s always what I stress at the start of the year and wherever it takes us, it takes us. I do feel good about our group this year. We’ve got some really good players.”

Last season, the Crusaders qualified for provincials and posted a 2-2 record in round robin play before falling in the quarter-final to their crosstown rival St. Mary Marauders.

Painter says Carlton is returning a lot of contributors from last year, but have some exciting young talent coming through the pipeline as well.

“We’ve got some younger guys, but we got some key players coming back as well too. We’ve got a lot of new faces, but we have a lot of guys that have played club as well too, so, they’re no stranger to the game.”

With a majority of the roster having experience with the game of volleyball, Painter says having a strong core of players who know the sport allows Carlton to develop some athletes into volleyball players.

“It makes a huge difference just knowing the game because volleyball’s such a tough sport to get really good at. There are so many aspects of it. It’s not like you can just go pick it up. It takes a lot of work. Having that base is massive, so that’s really nice. We’re trying to turn some athletes into players as well, which is always a fun challenge because the sky’s the limit with some of these guys.”

Painter says Carlton will look to make their presence felt at the net with the size the team possesses.

“Ball control and attacking (will be strong).  We are a big physical team. We’ve got some big guys on our team.”

Carter Mullner, who plays middle for the Crusaders is entering his Grade 12 season. With Carlton already having an automatic berth into provincials, Mullner says he is hoping to play in front of a packed gymnasium similar to what Swift Current played in front of during last year’s provincial final.

“It’s great to know honestly, plus you have home court advantage. You have all your friends come to watch you. You look at Swift (Current) last year they made provincial final (and the) benches (were) absolutely packed. There’s like 500 kids in that gym. So, if we can even recreate something similar to that, that would be great.”

Mullner says Carlton possesses plenty of height on their roster, and will look to use that advantage.

“First of all, especially for a high school team, we have really good size. We have six foot plus setter, which you rarely see in high school. We have a kid who’s out there, He’s 6’6 Team Sask, he’s crazy. Even me, me being around 6’2, like having that average height is just sometimes unheard of on a high school team.”

Mullner adds that the Crusaders are hoping to build towards a storybook finish on home court in November.

“(The) common theme with everybody here is you want to win that provincial championship. That’s what we’re all hoping to do.”

The Crusaders home tournament will be Oct. 13-14.