The St. Mary Marauders senior A girls volleyball team will be going to provincials this weekend, after putting in a first place performance at regionals in Prince Albert.
The Marauders went 4-0 in regional play last weekend, beating Carlton, North Battleford, Warman, and Lloydminster, while comfortably winning every set along the way. Their toughest game came against Warman, winning in two sets 25-18 and 25-16.
Their other victories against Carlton (25-9, 25-8), North Battleford (25-15, 25-17), and Lloydminster (25-13, 25-10), secured them a spot in provincials, as only the top two teams from regionals advanced. Marauders coach Shaun Hunko happy with the way his team stepped up in a tournament where the pressure is always lingering.
“I’m really pleased with how we played,” Hunko said. “Getting to provincials is the hardest part because every team wants to punch their ticket to the big show. A lot of nerves can play in at regionals, and we overcame that this weekend. Now that we’re going (to provincials), we can be a little more relaxed and just play our game. We’re comfortable with where we’re at, and we feel good about our chances of stirring the pot in Swift Current.”
Hunko took his starters out for the last game against the North Battleford Vikings, since a spot on the provincial stage was already secured. He was excited with how the players performed after getting limited time on the court this year.
“I was really proud of how they played,” he said. “Everyone was focused. Some of our players has their best games of the year in that last match.”
Hunko said defence was the biggest factor that allowed them to advance to provincials. It’s something the club has worked on all year, and he was pleased to see those efforts paying off.
The team still has a few days to practice and develop a plan heading into provincials in Swift Current this weekend. Hunko said they’re focusing on the basics heading into the final tournament of the season.
“Serving and passing dictate results, so we’ll focus on those, but we’ll get a little bit of rest as well,” he said. “We don’t want to overwork too much. We want to make sure we’re fresh. Friday and Saturday will be long days. The matches get more and more important, especially if you make it into the playoff round, so we want to be fresh and ready to go.”
For Hunko, this season has been a year full of trial and error, and in the end, the hard work paid off. Now he is ready to see what his group can do at provincials.
“I’m really proud of this group,” he said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. There were a lot of people that thought we wouldn’t have the success that we’ve had, but I always believed in them. I knew if they put in the work, things would pay off, and they’ve done that.”
Ten teams are advancing to provincials in the 5A division after last weekend’s regional tournament. Joining the Marauders in Pool A is Saskatoon Holy Cross, Balgonie Greenall, Swift Current, and Regina Campbell.
The five teams in Pool B are Saskatoon St. Joe’s, Regina Miller, Regina Leboldus, Weyburn, and North Battleford, who finished second at the regional tournament in Prince Albert, behind the Marauders.
Meanwhile for the Carlton Crusaders girls, they failed to qualify for provincials, after finishing with a 2-2 record, with one of their wins coming in three sets against Lloydminster.
Provincials from Swift Current is set to kick off on Friday, with the first game taking place at 12pm. The Marauders play their first game at 1pm against Regina Campbell.
St. Mary Marauders round robin schedule:
Friday, November 19.
1pm vs Regina Campbell
4:15pm vs Swift Current
6:30pm vs Balgonie Greenall
Saturday, November 20.
10am vs Saskatoon Holy Cross
Playoffs start on Saturday at 12:45pm.