Crusaders, Marauders reflect on 5A Boys volleyball provincials

Herald File Photo. The St. Mary Marauders and Carlton Crusaders Sr. Boys Volleyball teams compete in the city championships earlier this season.

The 5A Sr. Boys volleyball season ended last weekend. The Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders both qualified for provincials in Swift Current.

Marauders finish fourth after semi-final loss

The St. Mary Marauders finished fourth and lost in the semifinal to the eventual provincial champion Swift Current.

Marauder head coach Rene Quintal says the depth of St. Mary was tested and he was happy with the result.

“We’re happy with our results for the weekend. Every set we lost was relatively close. We had a very young lineup on the floor due to injury and illness. We had two Grade 10s and a Grade 11 attacking the corners. That’s the youngest we’ve ever been on the corners so we’re happy that our younger players can compete on a high level.”

St. Mary finished 2nd in Pool B at the tournament defeating Winston Knoll in two sets, Campbell in three sets and Weyburn in three sets.

The Marauders closed play with a loss to Centennial in two sets that set up a quarterfinal matchup with the crosstown rival Carlton Crusaders.

St. Mary prevailed in the matchup in two sets 25-18 and 25-17.

Quintal says the matchup is always intense due to the off-court relations between the two teams.

“We’re happy to win the match. They are really tough matches to play because the players from each team are friends off the court and the coaching staffs have a very good relationship with each other. We tend to not want to match up with them at provincials unless it is in the finals. We were happy to beat them, Carlton is a very well coached and athletic team. The fact we were able to beat them shows that we are very happy with the state of our team at the end of the year.”

The provincial tournament marked the end of the high school volleyball careers for several players on the Marauder roster.

Quintal says those players had an unusual high school experience but remained committed.

“They had a different high school experience than our other graduating players. There was no high school season when they were in Grade 10. We were definitely an inexperienced senior team this year. They were a close group of friends on and off the court. They really enjoyed the season and I want to thank them for all they did, for coming to practice and contributing to a really high level.”

Despite the loss in the semifinal, Quintal says the Marauders will look to build off the success into next season.

“We had all those players on the floor who can contribute next year. With that experience this year, we’ll have a really good opportunity to play at a really high level from the start and have some new tactics on our offense and defense to help us achieve at a high level.”

Crusaders scratch and claw their way into playoff berth at provincials.

The Carlton Crusaders had to rally to after dropping their first match to Swift Current in two sets.

Carlton head coach Curtis Bender says the Crusaders had been in a hole before and were in the right mental space to perform despite the early loss.

“We’ve been in those situations before. Last year, we lost our first two games. The boys stayed calm and there was really no panic. We felt confident we could win the rest of our games.”

Carlton bounced back with a win in two sets over Holy Cross but a loss to Martin in three sets set up a critical match against Estevan.

After Carlton took the first set by the score of 25-21, but Estevan would respond taking the second set into extra points before taking it 27-25.

In the third set, Carlton would take it by the score of 15-9.

Bender says that Estevan provided a stiff test, but Carlton was able to weather the storm.

“They really improved. They played us very tough. They had a couple guys that gave us trouble. We stuck with it, we managed to find a way and grind it out.”

In the playoff bracket, Carlton would fall in two sets to St. Mary.

A gesture after the Crusaders were eliminated from the tournament from St. Mary stands out to Bender, saying a graduating player went over to the Marauders after their win.

“I couldn’t be prouder of those guys. I had some of those guys for four years. Just a great bunch of kids. After we lost, we had one of our players go over to St. Mary and congratulate those guys. I had one of the coaches that came over and complimented them on that which shows their character. They are great athletes, but even better people. I’m really proud of that.”