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Three new banners are hanging from the rafters at Earl Marriott Secondary, following the Grade 9 girls' dominance on the volleyball court, winning the B.C. Provincial Championships, South Fraser Valley Championships and Surrey Championships in one season.
This past weekend, the EMS Mariners secured what head coach Robert Stevens called the "Lower Mainland triple crown" after defeating the R.A. McMath Secondary Wildcats 25-14 and 25-9 in the two sets of the provincial gold medal final played at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary.
"Once they got some momentum in the first set, I don't think anything was going to stop them," said Stevens. "A number of our players played their best match of the entire season in the final – to actually peak despite the nerves in the final match, it's really incredible to witness."
EMS was the number one seed heading into the provincials, following a 2-0 victory over Holy Cross Secondary in the Surrey Championships and a 3-0 win over their formidable opponents, the Wildcats, at the South Fraser Valley Championships. Stevens noted this was the first time since 2017 that a South Surrey Grade 9 girls team won all three championships in one season, with Semiahmoo Secondary taking the honour four years ago.
"I have to give credit to the McMath Wildcats, we faced them twice on our way to winning that tournament, and they were a very well-coached team," he said. "I wasn't surprised when we ended up facing them in the gold medal match at provincials."
The Mariners defeated North Vancouver's St. Thomas Aquinas Regional Secondary in the quarter-final, followed by Langley's R.E. Mountain Secondary in the semi-final.
Stevens credits the high number of multi-sport athletes on the Mariners roster for contributing to their success on the court: setter Macey Freemantle is the B.C. Junior All-Around Rodeo Champion; middle blockers Sydney Schierbeck and Priya Callewaert are provincial fastpitch champions; setter Scarlett McNeely is an HPL soccer player; and outside hitter Mia Stevens is a three-time provincial triathlon winner.
At provincials, Schierbeck earned an All-Star award while Mia Stevens was awared tournament MVP. Mia was also named MVP of the South Fraser Valley Championship, and Schierbeck and middle blocker Talia Partovi were named All-Stars of that tournament.
Stevens also credited Lord Tweedsmuir teacher Mike Eckert for organizing and hosting the tournament, as well as finding replacements for teams from Dawson Creek Secondary and Kelowna's Dr. Knox and Mount Boucherie secondary schools, who unfortunately could not make it due to flooding and mudslides on provincial highways. While they were unable to attend, Stevens said he reached out to the Dawson Creek coaches, which has led to a meaningful dialogue.
"We said we're going to miss them but that they would be here in spirit and we would be thinking about them as we played," he said. "Out of that, there's been some real communication – they were the first to congratulate us when they saw on the web that we'd won the tournament. Our girls have made this new relationship with the Dawson Creek team and we're really hoping to see them next year."
Congratulations Earl Marriott Mariners on your amazing season!