LANGLEY – By Gary Ahuja
An epic three-year run for the Earl Marriott Mariners was capped with yet another championship.
The core of the senior boys’ volleyball team won the junior provincial title (with a perfect season) in 2017 and claimed the senior title last year. And on Saturday night, the Mariners added yet another trophy to the case, shaking off some early nerves to defeat the Kelowna Owls 3-1 in the 3A championship final of the BC Secondary School Volleyball Provincial Championship at Langley Events Centre.
“It is a dream come true. It is not supposed to happen like this,”
admitted Earl Marriott’s Talon McMullin, who earned Most Valuable Player honours while twin brother Takoda picked up a First Team All-Star Award.
“We have just gotten lucky with the guys who have come to our school. We have been a tight-knit group since Grade 8, we have all played club together. To cap it off with another championship … it is just a surreal feeling.”
Kelowna was looking for their first senior boys provincial title in 66 years and they came out firing int eh first set, winning 25-19 as they looked to end their lengthy drought.
“They were just nervous in the first set and we said let’s go back to how we practice in the gym. Just like the gym, forget the crowd and just come back,” said Marriott coach Dale Quiring.
“They are so patient, so disciplined. When things don’t go our way, they just keep it together and focus on the next task that they have to do.”
A key was taking away Kelowna’s line attack, while improving their own block and passing to turn the tide. The Mariners were ruthlessly efficient over the match’s final three sets, winning 25-14, 25-11 and 25-14.
“There was no panic, we had a plan going in, it just took a bit to kick in,” Talon McMullin said.
The Marriott roster features just 10 players and Quiring alluded to the fact that some members battled through undisclosed ailments over the course of the season.
The coach also said the fact his players are multi-sport athletes is a boon to the team as their conditioning is never an issue and instead of devoting time to that in practice, they can instead focus on their volleyball skills.
“We work hard in hard in practice and then they just bring it on the court. When we are dialed and locked in, we are a hard team to beat,” he said.
In the bronze medal game, the Claremont Spartans defeated the Okanagan Mission Huskies. For full results, click here.
LANGLEY- By Gary Ahuja
The season has ended the way it began for the MEI Eagles: with the No. 1 provincial ranking.
For the first five weeks of the 2A senior boys’ season, the Abbotsford school found itself ranked tops. But in late October, the Eagles lost their perch, first to the Abbotsford Christian Knights and then for the month of November, to the Langley Christian Lightning.
On Saturday night, MEI used a 3-0 victory over the Lightning to capture the 2A Boys BC Secondary School Volleyball Provincial Championship title at Langley Events Centre.
The victory is the 11th all-time for MEI at the 2A level (most of any school) and their first since 2015.
Langley Christian has 10 medals (three gold, three silver and four bronze) in the past 13 seasons.
All three sets were competitive with MEI winning 27-25 in the opener, 25-19 in set two and then scoring the final two points to break a tie to prevail 25-23.
“The biggest thing was being steady with our serving and passing. Both teams were trying to establish that. And then hopefully from that, run an effective offence,”
said MEI coach Rocky Olfert.
“That was the biggest thing, trying to be steady and settle the nerves.”
At the Eastern Valley Championships earlier this month, Langley Christian beat the Eagles, to earn both the Zone title and the No. 1 ranking for the 16-team provincial championships.
“That loss really motivated our team, it didn’t bring us down,” said MEI’s Tyson Ardell, named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. “I felt like after that, we saw a challenge in front of us, we were able to work on our skills and get ready for a rematch.”
The Eagles would prevail in their Power Pool (which featured the top four seeds at provincials: No. 1 Langley Christian, No. 3 Abbotsford Christian and No. 4 George Elliot) dropping just one set out three best-of-three matches on opening day.
From there, the team cruised through the round of 16 and quarterfinals with back-to-back 3-0 wins over Prince Charles and Surrey Christian.
The Eagles then knocked off Abbotsford Christian 3-1 in the semifinals before facing Langley Christian in the gold medal game.
“Embrace the moment, they have earned it. Try and take it all in but also not to make it more than what it is. The points are still the same so be nice and calm and not get too high or too low,”
Olfert said of his pre-game message to his relatively young squad, which has just a pair of Grade 12 starters.
One of those was Ardell, the MVP.
“He has had a phenomenal four days. They always say big players step up in big games and he really did that for us. His leadership really shone through. You could see it in his eyes, his determination, his desire, he wanted the ball. It was really fun to watch,” the coach said.
“He is not naturally an outside hitter, but he really stepped up and it was fun to watch. When we needed something big to happen, he really stepped up.”
In the bronze medal game, Abbotsford Christian needed five sets but they knocked off George Elliot 3-2 in a rematch of last year’s championship final. For full results and standings, click here.
Pacific Academy’s Nathaniel Kang was selected the Most Outstanding Libero.
Roan McCarthy (George Elliot), Josh Aperloo (Abbotsford Christian), Zach Meinen (Abbotsford Christian), Hunter Arul-Pragasam (MEI), Nic Triemstra (Langley Christian) and Jonas Van Huizen (Langley Christian) were selected First Team All-Stars.
The Second Team All-Stars were Elijah Woldringh (College Heights), Juhan Park (Pacific Academy), Tommy Godoy (Pacific Christian), Comrie Engbers (Surrey Christian), Micah Bucknam (MEI) and Austin Duff (George Elliot).
And the Sir Charles Tupper Tigers won the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award.