Photos courtesy of Paul Yates Vancouver Sports Pictures

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.

Earl Marriott’s Talon McMullin won the Most Valuable Player and Okanagan Mission’s Sean McIntyre was the Most Outstanding Libero. Oak Bay took the Most Sportsmanlike Team Award.

Quinn Pitcher (Okanagan Mission), Takoda McMullin (Earl Marriott), Tyson Embree (Kelowna), Ethan Boag (Claremont), Crash Wergeland (Claremont) and Braden White (Kelowna) were the First Team All-Stars.

The Second Team All-Stars were Jesse Lee (Riverside), Seth Baker (Oak Bay), Colby Soolsma (Argyle), Lucas Yang (Eric Hamber), Josh Quiring (Earl Marriott) and Kael Murphy (Okanagan Mission).