Marauders, Crusaders set to clash in Sr. A girls city championship

The St. Mary Marauders and Carlton Crusaders play the annual city championship game Wednesday night at St. Mary High School--submitted photo/Terri Schrader

The biggest Sr. A girls volleyball game for both the Carlton Crusaders and St. Mary Marauders is almost here, and it’s been two years in the making. The annual city championship game between these two teams is set to kick off on Wednesday night. While both teams have been in multiple tournaments so far this season, it’s a different kind of atmosphere, knowing that there is a chance to hold bragging rights on their cross town rivals.

For Marauders coach Shaun Hunko, he knows what stakes are on the line, and his message to his team is to enjoy the unique experience.

“It’s a game unlike any other that we’ve played all season, in the sense that the crowd is a lot more rowdy than you normally would have,” Hunko said. “It’s been a couple years now since we last had this game, so we’re going to appreciate the opportunity to play, have fun and play hard.”

With COVID playing spoiler in last year’s game, preventing the teams from being able to play at all, Hunko explained the adjustments he had to make as a coach in putting together a team this year.

“This whole year it’s been really busy, just because it’s been a drastic change for all of us,” he said. “It took a couple weeks to get used to it again, and it’s been tough on the players too. They’re not used to practicing every day and having matches every weekend. It’s been an adjustment for everyone.”

Only two players on the Marauders team are returning from the 2019 team (McKenna Schrader and Shelaine Pritchard), and when asked about how they have stepped up as leaders on the team this season, Hunko says they’ve been great as mentors, and leading their team all season.

“We’re a fairly young team even with those two coming back. But they’ve done a great job leadership wise. I couldn’t ask for more from those two.”

Throughout practice this week, Hunko explained how his team’s morale is high heading into Wednesday’s game.

“They’re very motivated. They’re a group that has a very high ceiling, and they understand that. Every week we just keep getting better and better. They’re very driven, and even though our roster has so many new players, they’ve really bought into practicing hard and learning as much as they can.”

Wednesday night’s game is set to start at 7pm.