Marauders close out weekend on a volleyball high

The McMaster men’s volleyball team finished out Marauder Weekend with a five-set win over the Queen’s Gaels in Ontario University Athletics. Set scores were 25-19, 17-25, 24-26, 26-24, 15-10.

In the first set, McMaster would gain the early lead of three points at 8-5 with big kills from Tyson Alexander (Shanty Bay, Ont.) and Jori Mantha (Vanier, Ont.). Queen’s would finally be forced to call a timeout as the Marauders went ahead by four at 12-8 and would maintain that lead through to 18-14 with strong hitting from captain Jeremy Groenveld (Welland).

The Gaels would get within one, 18-17, but a missed serve from setter Jackson Dakin (Courtenay, B.C.) would give the Marauders their cushion back. Back up by four at 21-17, the Marauders sailed to the first set win 25-19.

Both teams battled hard at the beginning of the second set trading points all the way through to 11. Two big kills from Queen’s allowed them to go back up by two and at the technical timeout the Gaels would be ahead 16-14. Later in the set, a setter dump would throw off the Marauders’ defence and Queen’s would go up by three points. A miss-hit from Mantha would push Queens’ lead to four and the Gaels would continue to push through and capitalize on McMaster’s mistakes, allowing them to take the second set 25-17.

With the sets all tied up at one, both teams came out in the third fighting hard. McMaster would go ahead 7-5 early on with a big kill but that would follow with an ace from Queen’s and later the usage of a Marauder block for a point from 2011 Canadian Interuniversity Sports All-Canadian Joren Zeeman (Cambridge, Ont.) to tie the score at nine. Later, a big block from second-year Kevin Stevens (Winnipeg) would put the Marauders back up by three at 12-9.

The Marauders let that lead slip away as blocks and big kills from the Gaels produced a 14-14 tie and allowed them to go ahead 16-14 at the technical timeout. The Gaels would maintain that two-point lead through to 21-19. A big block by the Marauders up front would get them within one and later a kill from Groenveld would get them within one again at 22-21. At 24-23, Mantha would keep the Marauders alive with a kill from the outside to tie it up but Queen’s would win the set on a block in the middle at 26-24 to go ahead 2-1 in the match.

In a must-win situation for the Marauders, both teams got off to a decent start, but it was the Gaels who would take the first significant lead of the set. With kills on the outside from Zeeman for the Gaels and Mantha for the Marauders, Queen’s saw its lead extend to four at 9-5. With some mistakes going in McMaster’s favour though, the Marauders would catch up at 11-10 and eventually tie the score at 13 with a miss-hit by Queen’s. A huge block by middle Michael Sjonnesen (Cambridge) would put the Marauders ahead at 14-13. Despite a big hit from Groenveld to go up 15-14, an ace from Queen’s while the score was tied up at 15 would send both teams to the bench at the technical timeout.

After that, the Gaels would come out flying and after a kill from Michael Amoroso (Toronto) to give Queen’s the three-point lead at 19-16, the Marauders would be forced to call a timeout. Regrouping after the timeout, the Marauders would put together a kill and two blocks to get within one at 20-19. Later, at 22-21, Mantha would use a Queen’s block for the kill to tie it up at 22. Once again, Mantha would connect with setter Chris Spack (Orleans, Ont.) for a big kill to tie it up at 23. The Marauders would go on to win the set, 26-24, with missed serves from Queen’s a big kill from Sjonnesen to send the game to a fifth set.

Trading points once again, both teams came out with big kills on the outside. The Marauders would take their first lead of the set at 4-3 thanks to a roll shot from Groenveld that threw the Gaels’ defence off guard. At the change the Marauders would have the two-point lead at 8-6 and would continue to build on it. Going up 10-7 with a big kill from middle Alex Elliott (Cobourg, Ont.) and then 11-7 with a block from Elliott, the Marauders would finish off the game with a 15-10 win on a kill from Stevens.

Team captain Groenveld would record a game high 16 kills for the Marauders. Jori Mantha also earned double digit with 12 kills two aces and two blocks for 16 points on the night. Kevin Stevens was named the Big Mac Player of the Game for his 11 kills, three blocks and nine digs and libero Sean Lowe (Hamilton) recorded 10 digs.

For the Gaels, Joren Zeeman earned 17 points with 15 kills and two blocks. Middle Anthony Pitfield (Ottawa) earned 10 kills, an ace and four blocks for fifteen points and setter Jackson Dakin was named Big Mac Player of the Game for Queen’s with 45 assists and eight digs.

The Marauders host the Waterloo Warriors and the Guelph Gryphons on Friday and Saturday (Jan 20-21), with both games being played at Burridge Gymnasium at 8 p.m.