The McMaster men’s volleyball team won its first playoff game over the York Lions on Saturday (Feb. 18). In the four-set win, the Marauders advance to the Ontario University Athletics semi-finals at Western University next weekend. Set scores were 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17 in favour of the Marauders,
Both teams seemed evenly matched through the beginning of the first set, utilizing middles on either side of the court. Tied up through nine, the Marauders would take the first significant lead of the set at 12-9, forcing the Lions to call their first timeout.
Middle Alex Elliott was coming up big on offence for McMaster, as well as veteran Jeremy Groenveld. By the technical timeout, the Marauders would maintain that three point lead, heading into the second half of the first set, up 16-13.
After the timeout, serves from Elliott would prove to be troublesome for York, as the Marauders really beefed up their lead from there. McMaster the momentum they needed to finish off the set and they would go on to win it 25-17.
York took a slight lead early on in the second set, but it would be quickly made up by the Marauders. With a kill from Elliott and a couple blocks, McMaster would find itself up 10-6, forcing the Lions to call a time out. It wouldn’t help as Groenveld and Stevens were big from the outside, connecting with setter TJ Sanders for points. At the technical timeout, the Marauders led 16-12.
After the timeout, the Lions would get within three, but at 20-15, the Marauders would command the lead due to some mistakes on York’s side of the court. McMaster would maintain and build on that lead to win the second set match 25-19.
It took until the third set for the Lions to finally come alive, making the Marauders work for their points. Despite some nice kills from Groenveld in the back row, York would put up some big blocks that the Marauders couldn’t get past, taking a 12-9 lead early on.
The Lions and the Marauders would continue to trade points and some serves from Groenveld just before the timeout would get the Marauders within two at 16-14 in favour of York.
Kills from Elliott and Jori Mantha, along with some York mistakes, would have both teams tied at 18. The Lions would utilize their left sides in the second half of the set, and would regain their lead back at 22-19. After McMaster called their second timeout of the match, a kill from Groenveld and an ace from Mantha would force the Lions to call a timeout of their own.
The Lions would ultimately force a fourth set in the match, winning the third, 25-22.
Coming off a shaky third set, the Marauders had their sights set on the win in the fourth. With rookie Daniel Groenveld taking the floor for McMaster, the Marauders earned the early 12-7. The rookie contributed early on to the Marauders’ success, helping them head into the technical timeout, 16-10.
McMaster’s block would be too much for the Lions to handle in the fourth. That, along with some keys plays from Mantha, would allow the Marauders to soar to the OUA semifinals with a 25-17 fourth set win over the Lions.
Jeremy Groenveld and Jori Mantha both had 13 points for the Marauders in the win. Setter TJ Sanders recorded 33 assists.
For York, Karim Khalil also had 13 points. The only other Lions to hit double-digits was Nikola Sandic who had another 10.
The Marauders will face rivals, the Queen’s Gaels, next weekend at the OUA Final Four hosted by Western University.