The St. Mary Marauders boys’ volleyball team know how they need to play in order to book their ticket to provincials this November.
Marauder head coach Rene Quintal says St. Mary will look to play strong off the serve.
“Our serve and serve reception should be our general strength of the team. We’re definitely not the tallest team using volleyball metrics in terms of height and reach, but all of our athletes do a good job putting a good serve and velocity and they’re able to handle the ball on first contact.”
Last season, the Marauders qualified for provincials and posted a 3-1 record in pool play. They defeated the Carlton Crusaders in straight sets in the quarterfinal before falling to eventual champion Swift Current in the semi-final.
Quintal says he expects St. Mary to reach similar success this season.
“We need to understand how we were able to score points last year, like we did a really good job serving and then were able to slow down the other team’s offense. We’re not a big traditional volleyball team, I think we can do that this year. We need to get other team’s to pass the ball off the net so we can get two or three blockers up. I think we’ll see similar success at the provincial level.”
There has been significant growth for players in the offseason for St. Mary. The Marauders will return a total of six players who participated in provincials a year ago and will feature several players from their 2022 junior varsity team.
Quintal says he can see the hard work in the offseason paying off for some players already.
“I just think our overall skill is improved since the season ended in November (last year). You can tell the kids have spent the time in the weight room. Our jump touching was quite high compared to the 2022 statistics that we use to measure verticals.”
Unlike their crosstown rival Carlton Crusaders, there’s no guarantee in a provincial berth for St. Mary. With Carlton serving as host for 5A Boys’ provincials this season, the Crusaders automatically qualify for provincials.
St. Mary will have to qualify for provincials by finishing top two at regionals.
“I think it’s a little more pressure on us knowing that there’s only two spots to qualify. I think that’s one thing that’s a little more difficult, knowing that you can potentially play in town and in a gym we are more familiar with. It’s some more motivation for our guys too, to have an opportunity to play in town in front of their friends and family.”
One player who will see plenty of time on the court for St. Mary this year is Grade 12 setter Luke Mascho. He says the Marauders play well as a team due to many of their players also taking part in club volleyball together.
“We’re very fast and played together for a long time. We know each other really well (and) we have great chemistry.”
Entering his last year of high school volleyball, Mascho says he wants St. Mary to surpass expectations this season.
“I want to leave having (everyone think) this is a really skilled team that worked really hard for what they have. We’re not the biggest team, but I want everyone to know that we’re a skilled team that works very hard.”
With the Marauders featuring a roster with players shorter then a lot of their competition, Quintal says the St. Mary will rely on their versatility to find success.
“It just changes the way we train like our guys are. We’re able to have players that can play multiple spots. We have more than one setter. We have multiple players taking second contact in practice. We were a little more dynamic in terms of our lineup. We’re lined up one match, maybe a little bit different from the next match or even from set to set.”
The Marauders are in action tomorrow during their home tournament at St. Mary. Specific game times were not available as of press time.