Marauders claim city championship with three set sweep of Crusaders

St. Mary captain McKenna Schrader tips the ball over the net, scoring a point for the Marauders as part of their first set win. St. Mary won all three sets, claiming the city title.

The St. Mary Marauders came roaring out of the gates in the Senior A girls city final against the Carlton Crusaders on Wednesday night.

The Marauders swept the best of five match in three straight sets, 25-9, 25-17, 25-19.

“It’s great for the girls to experience this,” St. Mary coach Shaun Hunko said after the game. “We came out strong. It always comes down to serving and passing, and we served really well, especially in the first set.”

The Marauders stormed out to a 9-0 lead in the first set before surrendering their first point. Hunko once again pointed out how their serving had a lot to do with their success early on in the game.

“The more aggressive you can be serving, the more you limit what the other team can do offensively,” he added. “Our blocking is also something that we’ve been working on, and we’ve been improving every week.”

Senior McKenna Schrader was one of only two returning players from the 2019 Marauder team. Being the oldest on the roster, there might be the added pressure of having to play well and lead, but Schrader welcomes it.

“I just try to be very vocal on the court,” she explained. “I know a lot of the girls are a little more shy, so I just try my best to boost their energy on the court.”

The second returning player from the 2019 team is Shelaine Pritchard, who has been one of the Marauders best attackers all season. Schrader says her connection with Pritchard is special.

“Shelaine is one of my best friends and closest teammates, so being able to get this win with her means a lot because we’re so close off the court. It’s a really special moment for us to have on the court together,” Schrader said.

As the only two high schools in Prince Albert to compete across the province this season and in years past, Carlton and St. Mary have developed a unique rivalry. It’s one that most cities aren’t able to have because of the high number of schools in bigger cities like Saskatoon and Regina. For Hunko, it’s special to have such a familiarity with another school.

“Not every high school has a rivalry with another school, and we’re lucky to have that. It’s a tradition that’s been going on for many years, and it’s great to be a part of it.”

Now, with regionals and provincials right around the corner, the Marauders are rolling, and at the perfect time.

“I still feel like our team hasn’t reached their full potential, and that’s exciting,” Hunko said. “We’re playing really well and if we can keep getting better each day, hopefully we’ll be sitting in a nice spot in the last couple weeks of the season.”

@kyle_kosowan •