Both St. Mary Marauders volleyball teams captured the North regional titles last weekend and are hoping to keep the momentum rolling into the 5A provincial championships in Prince Albert this weekend.
The Marauder boys played host to the 5A Boys Northern Regional last weekend and posted a successful 3-1 record on home court to punch their ticket to the 5A Boys Volleyball provincial championship, which is being hosted at Carlton.
Marauder head coach Rene Quintal says St. Mary accomplished their goal for the weekend to walk away as regional champions.
“The goal going into the weekend was to be the North champions. We were on the good side of the three-way tie break at three wins and one loss. We were able to get first place by beating Warman in two. We knew going into the match against Carlton, we had to win one set to be the North champions, but we were definitely trying to win the match.”
The Marauders took both of their matches last Friday to start the regional tournament, downing both North Battleford and Warman in straight sets.
St. Mary would take their third game of the tournament on Saturday, defeating Lloydminster in straight sets and would fall in their final match to Carlton in three sets.
Mannix Mourot, who is one of three graduating players on this year’s Marauders boys team says he thought the St. Mary was engaged from the start of every match which led them to success in the regional tournament.
“We did a lot of good things obviously to go three and one. I think keeping our focus throughout games and having a lot of energy as a team will help us going forward into this provincial weekend.”
The Marauder boys’ volleyball team doesn’t have a single player who stands out on paper in terms of pure size, but Quintal says St. Mary has been a team that has relied on their depth to find success all season long.
“Every team has their go-to guy, and we have basically five go-to guys on the floor where we don’t really have anyone overly physically dominant, but we are able to extend rallies and provide our spikers more opportunities to score points on the attack.”
Mourot echoed the sentiment shared by his head coach.
“Everyone has to be pulling on that rope. Playing a lot of defence helps a lot. Keeping our serves in just helps this team push forward in games. Obviously, we’re not the biggest. We’re not going to get a lot of blocks, but getting digs helps us out a lot.”
Facing teams in provincials who possess more size, Quintal says the Marauders have been putting a premium in playing well off the serve, both offensively and defensively.
“We need to serve in, we need to defend, and we’re going to have to get a few breaks. We’re not the biggest team so we’re going to have to extend some rallies and chip off the block to score some points and hopefully we frustrate some teams with our defence and hopefully by the end of the set we’ve got two more points than the other team.”
The St. Mary boys begin provincial play at 1 p.m. on Friday afternoon at Carlton’s Red gymnasium when they take on Estevan.
It was a straight sweep for the St. Mary girls at the regional championships in Lloydminster last weekend. The Marauders finished with a perfect 4-0 record and did not drop a single set throughout the tournament.
Marauder head coach Shaun Hunko says that St. Mary was challenged out of the gate but were able to respond against strong opponents early in the tournament.
“I liked how we came out. We had a couple of challenging matches with Carlton and North Battleford on Friday, which got us in the right frame of mind going into Saturday. I felt like Saturday was a little bit easier for us. It’s always nice to be challenged a little bit at the start of a tournament as opposed to at the end.”
The Marauders girls had their tickets punched to provincials regardless of the results as they are serving as the host for this year’s 5A Girls Provincial Volleyball Championship.
Libero Jayden Soles is one of seven Grade 12 players on the Marauder Girls’ Volleyball team. She says the entire team is eager for the tournament to get started.
“I’m really excited that we get to host provincials, especially for all of our Grade 12s this year. It’s a great opportunity.”
With a very experienced roster and playing games on home court, Hunko says the weekend is shaping up to be very memorable for the Marauders regardless of the final result.
“The whole school is really excited. We have some great volunteers organizing things. They’re really busy this week. The girls, absolutely they’re excited just to be at home. With so many Grade 12s on the team, you can’t ask for much more. They’ve been on this team now for three years straight. They’ve experienced so many things and this is just another experience that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, hosting provincials in their Grade 12 year.”
The Marauders are hoping to finish off some unfinished business from a year ago. St. Mary made it all the way to the provincial final last year, falling to Saskatoon Holy Cross. Hunko says the experience the Marauders gained last year was very valuable and he is confident they will be a dangerous team in the playoff bracket once again.
“I feel like last year we were learning what winning was about. This year, we’re applying all those experiences. I also feel that this year’s team is not only really skilled, but we have the height and the physicality, which are traits that you want to have when you make a push in the playoffs.”
The Marauder girls begin pool play at 12 p.m. on Friday when they take on Saskatoon St. Joseph.