By Bob Carter
There weren’t a ton of surprises for Al Schill this fall as his top-seeded Earl Marriott team steadily marched to its goal — a AAA provincial title, which came Saturday in the form of a 3-0 victory over No. 2 Van Tech.
But Schill expressed some amazement just moments after the Mariners’ achievement at the Kuhanaverse Sports BC Volleyball Championships.
“To not lose a set here, that’s fabulous,” Schill said. “Never in my wildest dreams did I think of something like that.”
Marriott was startlingly efficient all season, losing only to AA’s College Heights in the Best of the West tournament in mid-October.
“That was a good re-focus for us,” Schill said. “It gave us motivation.”
The Mariners won six of seven tournaments, the biggest their third BC crown in school history. They won the Fraser Valley South without dropping a set, then did it again this week in Langley.
And they did it all as Schill rotated players in and out. Many of them had been starters, if not stars, on teams in the recent past, so they had to adopt a sharing attitude for the group to succeed.
From the start, they were the team to beat, top-ranked all season.
“We knew we had a bulls-eye on our back,” Schill said, “and to be able to use the whole team in this was awesome.”
The Talismen played most of the game without their starting setter, Nathan Ho, who rolled an ankle in the semifinals.
“It was unfortunate for Van Tech not to have their setter,” Schill said. “But I thought we executed pretty well.”
Schill said the team’s blocking, a team strength, was crisp, and the passing was better.
The Mariners’ middle, Nicholas Prokopic, was selected the AAA tournament MVP, and twins Talon and Takoda McMullin were first-team all-stars.
Tech’s outside hitters Lachlan McBride and Karsten Nielsen-Roine were also first-team picks.