St. Mary Marauders volleyball squads excited for Alberta road trip

St. Mary Marauders setter Cassidy Schrader sets a ball during practice on Oct. 4, 2022

After two long years with COVID protocols, the St. Mary Marauders volleyball program is ready to cross provincial lines to Spruce Grove, Alberta this weekend for the David Pysyk Memorial Tournament.

For the Marauder girls, it will be the first time for all players on the roster to be a part of the Alberta road trip as St. Mary features many Grade 11 players.

St. Mary girls volleyball head coach Shaun Hunko says the tournament provides a chance to see out of province competition.

“We weren’t able to get there for the last two years. None of the girls on this team have been to that tournament. It’s going to be a refreshing new tournament. It’s a unique tournament considering the majority of the teams are from Alberta, there’s very few Saskatchewan teams.”

The Marauders hoped to make the trip last volleyball season as COVID restrictions loosened, but those plans were canceled at the last minute.

Hunko says several current players watched siblings from the sidelines prior to the pandemic, and are eager to make the trip this year.

“They were really disappointed last year, because we thought we might be able to get there but we weren’t allowed. I know some of them have older siblings that played in the tournament. There’s a couple who watched it when they were younger.”

The Marauder girls have had a hot start to the year, medaling in all four tournaments (two gold, two silver) they have competed in so far this season.

Cassidy Schrader, a setter in Grade 11, says she’s looking forward to seeing fresh competition in Spruce Grove this weekend.

“I’m very excited. It’s going to be so much fun to play some different teams .These last few tournaments we’ve been playing the exact same teams. It’s going to be different to go out of province and just see all the teams and get more competition.”

The trip provides a chance for the team to bond off the court as well as on it throughout the Alberta road trip as the Marauders have set aside time on the itinerary for the teams to visit the West Edmonton Mall while in Alberta’s capital. 

“I think it’s going to be very important,” Schrader says. “I don’t know some of the girls super well. (I’m looking forward to) getting to know them and seeing more of them off the court rather than just on the court.”

The Marauder girls are in Pool E of the tournament with Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (Lethbridge, AB), Cochrane High School (Cochrane, AB), Archbishop O’Leary (Edmonton, AB), Jasper Place (Edmonton, AB) and Memorial Composite (Stony Plain, AB).

The Marauder girls kick off the David Pysyk Memorial Tournament on Friday at 10:15 a.m. against the Lethbridge Collegiate Institute Clippers.

Tournament ‘a good measuring stick’ says Sr. Boys coach

Both volleyball teams from St. Mary will be making the trip to Alberta.

St. Mary Boys volleyball head coach Rene Quintall says the tournament is an excellent opportunity to evaluate where the team is at near the halfway point of the season.

“The tournament has always been a good measuring stick for our program. It’s an opportunity to play the best teams from Alberta, BC and Manitoba. It gives us an idea to identify some of our strengths and some of our weaknesses to work on for the remainder of the year.

“You’re playing some of the best teams out of Winnipeg, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver. If we’re able to compete against them, it’s showing that we are doing a good job. It’s going to give us a level of play to strive for and compete against.”

For some players on the boys roster, it will be the first and only time they will make the Alberta road trip. Carter Minier is in his Grade 12 season with the Marauders.  He says the entire team is looking forward to the trip.

“It’s exciting. I was on the team last year, a lot of guys didn’t get to one of these things. It’s kind of a St. Mary tradition to go. It’s really exciting, not only for me but my whole team to get out there and experience it.”

Minier says the trip should help the Marauders gel and become a better team at the end of the tournament.

“It should be really fun with the boys to go out. I know in years past they got to go to the water slides and stuff. It should be really fun off the court as well. It should drastically help our chemistry. Bonding together and becoming a team on and off the court. We want to play for each other and win for each other.”

The Marauder boys are in Pool B of the tournament with Lethbridge Collegiate Institute (Lethbridge, AB), MEI Secondary (Abbotsford, BC), Paul Kane (St. Albert, AB), Strathcona (Edmonton, AB), and Charles Spence (Grande Prairie, AB)

The Marauder boys open up the tournament at 10:15 am on Friday against MEI Secondary.