Earl Marriott Mariners strike provincial volleyball gold

EMS senior boys team wins B.C. triple-A title with win over Van Tech Saturday in Langley

It’s not often that a team will go wire-to-wire – from the first day of the season until the last – as the No. 1 team in their given sport, but the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys volleyball team managed just that, capping a dominant season with a B.C. triple-A boys championship Saturday in Langley.

Not only did the Mariners – who were the province’s No. 1-ranked team at the start of the season – not lose a game at provincials last week, they didn’t even drop a single set. In Saturday night’s final, they beat the Van Tech Talismen 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-19).

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were not going to lose a set,” said EMS coach Al Schill in a news release issued late Saturday. “I know we were strong, but this is a provincial tournament and teams come to play.”

The Mariners very nearly pulled off an undefeated season, with the team’s only loss coming at a tournament earlier this year in Kelowna. At Fraser Valley championships in late November, Schill told Peace Arch News that his team “kind of just rolled through” the competition at the tournament.

• READ ALSO: Mariners, Orcas win Fraser Valley volleyball championships

The Mariners had “set the bar pretty high” at the beginning of the season, he noted, adding that his team was used to playing a target on its back as the province’s top team.

He reiterated that point Saturday.

“We knew we had a bull’s eye 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,” he said.

At the Langley Events Centre-hosted provincials, EMS finished as the top seed after pool play, and in playoffs opened with a victory over Burnaby South, before cruising to a three-set win over Mount Boucherie in quarterfinals on Friday morning. Later that day, the Mariners defeated Claremont in semifinal action to advance to the gold-medal showdown.

The Elgin Park Orcas were also in the field of 16, and lost their first playoff game to Van Tech.

Marriott’s Nicholas Prokopich was named the tournament’s most outstanding player at the conclusion of Saturday’s final. Like his coach, he was proud of his team for successfully completing the mission they’d set out for themselves months ago.

“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,” he said.

Marriott’s Takoda and Talon McMullin were also named first-team all-stars.

Girls volleyball

At BC Triple-A Girls Volleyball Championships in Powell River, the Elgin Park Orcas finished with the bronze medal.

The Orcas had playoff-round victories over Robert Bateman Secondary and W.L. Seaton, before being knocked from contention by Carihi Secondary. In the bronze game, EPS defeated Little Flower Academy.

At quad-A girls provincial championships in Penticton, Earl Marriott was eliminated in the first round of playoffs, after a loss to Oak Bay.

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