Above: The Mariners huddle to start the match. 📷 Cole Schisler
By Sports and Lifestyle Editor Cole Schisler
After winning against the Camosun Chargers 3-2 on February 17, the Mariners hosted their Vancouver Island rivals to end the season with a suspenseful 3-1 victory. Many Mariners alumni attended the game, and watched proudly as the Mariners won.
“You always want to finish the season on a high note,” Head Coach Abe Avender said. “With a crowd like this, that has over forty men’s alumni in attendance, it was nice for the guys to play at a good level, and come out with a win.”
To begin the match, the Mariners presented the inaugural Ryan Thibault Memorial Award to Mariners’ star power hitter, Zach Grigg, for his work ethic, academic achievements, drive, and leadership on the court. Ryan Thibault played for the Mariners from 2005 to 2011, and passed away last year after a battle with cancer. The award helped raise 10K in funds, which were matched by the VIU Foundation.
The Mariners and Chargers traded the lead many times throughout the match. Halfway through the first set, the teams were tied 13 apiece, but the Mariners broke away with a 25-19 victory in the set. The Chargers regained some ground in the second set, however the Mariners were able to contain the Chargers and win the set 25-22. The Mariners lost their composure in the third set, and lost it 25-22 to the Chargers after a series of mistakes. The Mariners pulled it together, and finished the match with a 25-19 victory in the fourth set, to win their final regular season match 3-1.
Coach Avender said the Mariners did an excellent job of limiting their service errors, which put pressure on the Chargers to make plays, and allowed the Mariners’ defense to capitalize on their mistakes. The Mariners defense came up with a pile of digs to keep the ball in play, and prevent the Chargers from scoring.
As the first seed going into Provincials, the Mariners will have the advantage of a bye-week, and will play against either the College of the Rockies Avalanche, or the Douglas Royals. Both teams are different, and the Mariners will adapt their game plan accordingly. Coach Avender is focused on keeping the Mariners’ momentum going through provincials.
“The hard work is paying off,” he said. “I comment all the time in the room about our snowball, and how big it’s getting. We’re adding to it every night, and it’s just gotten better and better.”
Cole is a second-year Bachelor of Arts student majoring in creative writing, minoring in political science. He has an interest in all things exciting, mundane, or otherwise. He hopes to one day become an author, actor, comedian, editor, and rapper, while moonlighting as an astronaut.