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Earl Marriott Grade 9s capture provincial volleyball banner

South Surrey team pulls off three-peat – winning Surrey, South Fraser and B.C. titles in single year
The Earl Marriott Mariners Grade 9 girls celebrate after winning the gold-medal game at provincial championships Saturday in Cloverdale. (Contributed photo)

Earl Marriott Secondary’s Grade 9 girls volleyball team has pulled off the rare triple play – winning banners at three different levels of playoffs.

The final piece of the championship puzzle was delivered Saturday in Cloverdale, where the EMS squad defeated Richmond’s McMath Wildcats 2-0 (25-14, 25-9) in the gold-medal game.

Heading into provincials, which were hosted by Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary, the Marriott Mariners had already finished first at the first two legs of the playoffs. On Nov. 2, they won the Surrey championships with a win over Holy Cross, and on Nov. 15 captured the South Fraser crown with another victory over McMath.

“I just couldn’t be more proud of this group of young ladies,” EMS coach Robert Stevens told Peace Arch News. “There were injuries and illness to deal with during the season, but they persevered, worked very hard and peaked just in time for provincials.”

Stevens noted that the Wildcats “are a formidable, well-coached team” while adding that he was happy that his team was able to shake off a year’s worth of rust to play so well this season; last season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning the Grade 9 season was the players’ first at the high-school level.

“The girls were extremely enthusiastic and appreciative to be able to play again this fall. But, there was a steep learning curve with respect to offensive systems and defensive positioning for the girls to catch up on at the beginning of the season,” he said.

“And, to their credit, they learned quickly and applied the teamwork fundamentals that we were teaching them.”

En route to Saturday’s championship, EMS defeated Langley’s R.E. Mountain Secondary in semifinals, and North Vancouver’s St. Thomas Aquinas and Delta’s Seaquam before that.

Marriott’s Mia Stevens was named MVP of the provincial tournament, while Sydney Schierbeck was named an all-star. At South Fraser championships, Stevens also earned MVP honours, while Schierbeck and Talia Partovi were named to the tournament all-star team.

Locally, the last Grade 9 girls team to win all three banners in a single season was the 2017 squad from Semiahmoo.

Stevens also lauded tournament organizer Mike Eckhert and others for staging the two-day tournament at Tweedsmuir – “He does an incredible job,” Stevens said – which was made more complicated by having to replace three teams at the last minute once two teams from Kelowna (Mount Boucherie and Dr. Knox secondaries) and Dawson Creek Secondary had to pull out of the tournament because travel to the Lower Mainland was impossible as a result of flooding and highway closures throughout the province.

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