‘We’ve set the bar pretty high’: Marauder girls volleyball hoping for big season

Nathan Reiter/Daily Herald Sydney Batiuk of the St. Mary Marauders serves a ball during practice on Sept. 11, 2023.

The St. Mary Marauders were a game away from being provincial champions a year ago, and now they are looking to finish what they started.

Marauder head coach Shaun Hunko says St. Mary is returning several key players from last year’s team.

“We’re really excited. We have nine returning players. Seven of them are in grade 12. We’ve got a ton of experience. We’ve set the bar pretty high for this season. Every team wants to be at the top, our biggest goal and biggest challenge this year is to keep working as hard as we can to even improve even more.”

The Marauders would win their pool during provincials last year going undefeated in round robin play. In the playoff bracket, they defeated Carlton and Balgonie Greenall before falling in the final to Saskatoon’s Holy Cross.

Hunko says the Marauders gained valuable experience during their provincial run last year.

“I feel like sometimes you often have to lose before you can win. I think in high school girls’ volleyball, those experiences are very huge. The last three years, this team has experienced a lot of ups and downs. We’ve pretty much experienced every scenario you can think of in the last three years. We just hope we can draw from all that. We’re hoping to get another shot at the final and see what happens.”

St. Mary will look make noise on home court this year as they will play host to the 2023 5A Girls Provincial Volleyball Championships Nov. 17-18. It will be the first time St. Mary has hosted the girls’ provincials for more than a decade.

Hunko says the team is looking forward to playing in front of friends and family during provincials.

“They’re super excited. We hosted in 2012, I believe that was the last time. It’s great for the families and their peers because often outside of our home tournaments, we’re on the road every weekend. Their peers don’t get to watch them play very often. So, it’ll be nice.”

One of the nine returning players from last year’s Marauder team is Grade 12 setter Cassidy Schrader.

Heading into her final high school volleyball season, she says she is looking forward to enjoying the moment.

“I’m just excited to share it with my teammates (that) I’ve been playing with for the past two years and to have all my family here watching me this year, that’s even more important to me. It’s my last year and I’m just excited to have everyone around to share that with.”

Schrader adds that the experience the Marauders have gained over the last two seasons have helped the team become very close off of the court as well.

“We’re all just going out (and) working together. We all just connect so well. I don’t think there’s ever been any drama or anything. We just know how to play together, especially since (it is) our third season together.”

The Marauder girls’ will have their home tournament on Sept. 22-23.