By Gary Ahuja (Special to VarsityLetters.ca)
LANGLEY — There is winning and then there is what the Earl Marriott Mariners did to the competition these past four days at Langley Events Centre.
On Saturday, Surrey’s Mariners steamrolled any and all opponents standing in their way en route to the senior boys AAA provincial title at the Kahunaverse Sports BC Volleyball Championships.
Earl Marriott capped off a dominant display of volleyball against the plucky Van Tech Talismen, winning 3-0 (25-18,25-16,25-19) to capture the school’s third AAA senior boys volleyball championship. They also won banners 2013 and 2014.
“We were able to execute our offence. It wasn’t our cleanest match, but it was good enough to win,” said Mariners coach Al Schill.
The Mariners did not drop a single set over the course of the provincial tournament, going a perfect 7-0 while winning all 16 sets. In fact, only two opponents managed to score more than 19 points against Earl Marriott and the teams combined to average just 15.7 points per set.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were not going to lose a set. I know we were strong, but this is a provincial tournament and teams come to play,” Schill said.
“We knew we had a bullseye on our back and they would be coming for us and the fact we played that strong and used our entire team the entire tournament, as a coach that is awesome.”
The victory capped off a dominant season which saw Earl Marriott lose just once. And it was a loss last season which fueled this year’s squad as the Mariners lost a heartbreaker in the provincial semifinals to the eventual champion Semiahmoo Totems. Earl Marriott did rebound from that loss to capture bronze, but the defeat left a bitter taste in their mouths.
“It was really tough last year, we thought we had (the match) but Semi came back and they are a great team,” admitted Nicholas Prokopich, who picked up most outstanding player honours for the Mariners. “At the start of this year, we talked as a team and collectively we had a plan. We accomplished what we wanted and it feels amazing.”
Schill also admitted that 2017’s bronze medal was a letdown for the team as they fully expected to be playing for gold. And with the returning players and the core of a junior team which went undefeated and won the provincial title last year joining them, the pieces were in place for another run at the title.
It has also meant putting egos aside and sacrificing minutes to keep all involved.
“They have all taken some time on the bench and that’s not an easy place to be when you are used to being a starter, so kudos to them,” Schill said.
Prokopich said there was never an issue with playing time and the team is one big brotherhood.
“Everyone knew for the greater good, we did it for the team. Everyone loves everyone regardless of playing time. Playing time does not matter, we all win in the end. All our teammates love each other.”
For Van Tech, the second-place finish marked not only a best in school history for senior boys volleyball, but also the best showing ever for a Vancouver school at this tier.
Head coach Aaron Lock has a simple message for his veteran-filled team which featured all Grade 12s save for one player.
“Nothing to be ashamed of. We still made our school proud, made school history, made Lower Mainland history, made Vancouver history. They are what teams in our zone will look up to.”
In the third-place game, the Claremont Spartans defeated the Moscrop Panthers to take bronze. Earl Marriott had defeated Claremont in one semifinal while Van Tech topped Moscrop in the other.
Diego Maffia (Oak Bay), Ethan Gill (Argyle), Cameron Powell (Mount Boucherie), Ted Graveson (Moscrop), Aidan Peters (Mt. Baker) and Jordan Simpson (Mt. Baker) were all selected second team all-stars.
The first team all-stars were Lachlan McBride (Van Tech), Martin Prinsloo (Moscrop), Takoda McMullin (Earl Marriott), Talon McMullin (Earl Marriott), Ethan Boag (Claremont) and Karsten Nielsen-Roine (Van Tech).
Mount Boucherie’s Nicolas Bednar was selected the top libero and Claremont was named the most sportsmanlike team.
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