For the second year in a row, the Earl Marriott Mariners senior boys volleyball team will head to provincials as champions of the Fraser Valley.
The Mariners captured their second consecutive Fraser Valley AAA senior boys title Saturday night on their home court, with a three-set victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-15) over the Fraser Heights Firehawks.
It was the sixth year in a row that the Marriott side had advanced to the regional championship game, but only their second ever win.
“We lost those first four, all in a row, so this is great (to win twice),” said Earl Marriott head coach Bob Smith. “And it was really great for the guys to be able to do it this time in front of their family and friends, on their home court.”
Making the victory even sweeter was the fact that the Firehawks had given the Mariners all they could handle earlier in the season, winning all four times the squads squared off, though Smith said his highly ranked squad – they’ve been ranked inside the top three provincewide most of the season – had played some of those earlier contests without a fully healthy roster.
Nevertheless, he was happy to get the best of their rivals when it counted most.
“We’d just had a lot of trouble with them. We had some injuries, and we just started the season off slowly,” Smith explained. “It took us awhile to gel as a team, but we generally peak in November, and we’re doing that again.”
Earl Marriott was led by tournament MVP Justin Faester, while Eric Lee and Evan Bell-Foley were named to the Fraser Valley all-star team.
Last year, Marriott carried the momentum from Fraser Valleys all the way to a provincial championship, where they beat No. 1 Kelowna on the latter’s home court.
“Hopefully, the same thing will happen again.”
This year’s provincial tournament will be held at the Langley Events Centre – the first time in two decades it hasn’t been hosted in Kelowna – beginning next Wednesday. The AAA championship game is scheduled for Nov. 29.
“It’s going to be a great week of volleyball,” Smith said.