An incredible season for the Earl Marriott Mariners junior boys volleyball team came to an end on the weekend in the most fitting of ways: with a victory.
Saturday in Kelowna, the South Surrey squad placed first at Junior Boys Volleyball Provincial Championships without losing a game – or even a single set – along the way.
In fact, when playing at the junior level, the team didn’t lose a set throughout the entire season, winning 38 of 38 matches played, in 76 straight sets. The only time the Mariners lost a set was in October, when they played in a senior tournament at Seaquam Secondary in Delta, where they finished fourth out of 12 teams.
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“This doesn’t happen very often. To go undefeated without losing a set – from league, to playoffs to Fraser Valleys and then provincials… In all my years of coaching – over 20 years – I’ve never seen it happen,” said EMS coach Dale Quiring, who coached the team alongside assistant coach Ashleigh McNeill.
“It was just incredible. I’m still on Cloud 9.”
In Saturday’s championship game, the Mariners defeated MEI in straight sets to finish first out of 24 participating teams. Princess Margaret Secondary (eighth) and Pacific Academy (11th) were the other Surrey schools taking part.
Talon McMullin, who plays middle for the Mariners, was named tournament MVP, while three of his teammates – setter Joshua Quiring, power Takoda McMullin and right side Ryan Brown – were named to the provincial all-star team.
Quiring – who has coached most of the players on the team in each of the past three seasons, at the high-school and club level – said the key to the team’s unprecedented success this fall was boys’ dedication and drive. As an example, he pointed to the team’s weekly Friday night practices, which were always well-attended.
“They came all the time. That’s the strength of this team – it’s simply the passion the guys all had for volleyball, and for being together at practice,” he said.
As well, he pointed out, the team was able to successfully deal with any adverse moments throughout the season, even though such moments were few and far between, and understandably so considering their undefeated run.
“They know how to deal with pressure. They’ve played in (big events) at the club level, and that (experience) certainly helps,” Quiring said.
“In volleyball, things can fall apart very quickly, and you have to keep it together. We had a few times where we were down in a set… but they would just rally back. It’s simple, but they’ve just learned how to handle those stressful situations.”
Senior boys and girls volleyball teams begin the quest for a provincial championship Wednesday at the Langley Events Centre – and plenty of South Surrey and Cloverdale teams are in contention.
In the quad-A senior girls tournament, the Earl Marriott Mariners – who won Fraser Valleys earlier this month – Semiahmoo Totems and Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers will be in the mix, and in the triple-A senior boys tournament, EMS, Semiahmoo and Elgin Park will all be on the court this week.
Championship games at all levels are scheduled for Saturday at the LEC.