The Carlton Crusaders locked themselves into the provincial volleyball tournament in Saskatoon this weekend with a third place finish at regionals in Lloydminster last weekend.
The Crusaders finished with a 2-2 record in the regional tournament, grabbing the third and final spot in their pool, punching their ticket to the biggest tournament all season. Coach Curtis Bender was extremely happy with how his boys performed in regionals.
“It was great. I loved the battle we had,” Bender said. “We’re such a young team so for us to make it and get that experience is going to be awesome in helping us in the future. I’m really proud of the guys and how they performed last weekend.”
The Crusaders have grown together as a team all season, and Bender said that camaraderie has helped them progress in other areas as well.
“Our group is really tight knit,” he said. “We didn’t have a lot of club players this year, so just playing a lot more and coming together this year has made us a lot more confident in the sense that we can play against the best teams in the province.”
The Crusaders got a little bit of help from host Lloydminster, as they beat Warman in the last game of the tournament, meaning Carlton filled the lasts provincial spot in their pool. Bender explained what his message was to his team when they found out they were moving on to provincials.
“This is a heck of an opportunity,” Bender said. “A lot of people would love to be in our position. We’ve got nothing to lose going into provincials, and I just told them to enjoy it, because it’s a great chance to go against the best teams in the province.”
With just a couple days left to practice before the team heads to Saskatoon, Bender wants to work on ways to attack their opponents.
“We’re going to clean up a little bit of everything, but mostly we’re looking at finding ways to go up against a stronger block and how to attack different ways,” he said. “We want to get our one on one situations into positions to find more success and just moving guys around. We’re also making sure our serving and passing is good, because that sets everything up in motion for our offense.”
The Crusaders will be in pool A for provincials, and their first two games will not be easy. First, they will go up against Swift Current, who many people have slated to win the tournament. In their second game they will take on the St. Mary Marauders. The Crusaders fell to the Marauders in regionals in two sets (16-25, 21-25), but put in one of their best games of the season against St. Mary.
Provincials kick off on Friday in Saskatoon, and games will be split between Centennial and St. Joe’s high schools on Friday and Saturday.
Carlton Crusaders schedule:
Friday, Nov. 19
2:15pm vs Swift Current @ Centennial
4:15pm vs St. Mary @ Centennial
Saturday, Nov. 20
9:00am vs Centennial @ St. Joe’s
11:15 vs Regina Martin @ St. Joe’s