Mac keeps OUA volleyball crown, goes to national championship

In front of a boisterous home crowd at Burridge Gymnasium, the McMaster Marauders won their second straight Ontario University Athletics banner defeating their arch rival Queen’s Gaels 3-1 (25-20, 21-25, 25-22, 25-7. McMaster swept the best-of-three playoff with Thursday’s (Feb. 19) win.

Mikasa Player of the Game and Marauder, Peter Hrkal (Caledon), led the way for the winning side with 15 kills, five digs, three solo blocks for a 19-point effort. Stuart Hamilton (Ottawa) was named Mikasa Player of the Game for Queen’s, with a team-high nine digs.

McMaster grabbed a 1-0 series lead with a 3-1 (20-25, 25-22, 25-20, 25-18) road victory in Kingston only needing one win with two games scheduled on home court to claim another title. The Gaels and Marauders traded points for the majority of the first set, before the home side put the squeeze on their visitors with a 25-20 first set victory.

The teams traded points again in the second set, but with the Gaels sensing that their margin for error was decreasing with every point McMaster earned, Queen’s turned the tables on the Marauders in the late stages of the second set, pulling out a 25-21 win to tie the score at 1-1.

McMaster began to show why it was worthy of a second straight OUA crown in the third set, jumping out to a comfortable lead. While the Gaels were valiant in their come back effort in the latter part of the set, the Marauders prevailed in the third game 25-22.

This took the wind out of the Gaels completely, as the home side dominated in the fourth and final set, winning 25-7.

Libero Josh Nederveen (Dundas) contributed 12 digs to McMaster’s cause, while teammate Ryan Hudson (Winnipeg) earned 31 assists. Jeff Demeza (Calgary) and Joren Zeeman (Cambridge) had 12 and 11 kills, respectively, for the Gaels. Demeza, a fifth-year outside player, played his final game for Queen’s on Thursday.

McMaster right side Jeremy Groenveld (Welland) had a two-game total of 30 kills, earning 22 in Game 1.

It is the third straight meeting between these schools in the OUA championship, with McMaster winning the rubber match on Thursday. McMaster defeated Queen’s in two games last season and the Gaels won the 2006-07 title in three games. Overall, it is the fifth straight meeting in the post-season between these clubs, with McMaster winning three times.

McMaster, which now has an overall record of 20-3 on the OUA season, moves on to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship, Feb. 27- March 1 in Edmonton. The Marauders finished the season No. 5 in national rankings.