Marauders set to hold court in volleyball

Optimism is the operative word as McMaster women’s volleyball moves into the 2012-13 Ontario University Athletics season. If last year’s campaign saw some growing pains, it’s expected this season will show substantial gains.

Marauder coach Tim Louks has raised the bar of expectations for his players, confident that the Maroon will rise to meet the challenge on a nightly basis. The experience of lining up beside the best teams in Canada, as the host team at last year’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport finals should pay major dividends for this year’s Marauders.

The roster combines experience and youth, with talent being the commonality. Back for their final seasons in Maroon are fifth-year co-captains Meagan Nederveen and Shannon McRobert. Named an OUA all-star for the second time, McRobert is a force in the middle, while Nederveen was recognized as the OUA Libero of the Year. Both will provide leadership on what is still a young team.

Returning seniors Kaillee Stock and Amanda Weldon bring more experience to the floor, and will be key players in the Mac attack. Also available are a trio of third-year players, Camilla Thorne-Tjomsland, Lauren Skelly, and Patricia Raso, who have all seen playing time and who, when called upon, will be expected to make an impact.

The group that burst on the scene last season as freshmen should be even better as sophomores. Both Lauren Mastroluisi and Taylor Brisebois were selected to the OUA All-Rookie team and have super potential. Also having solid debuts were Mira Krunic, Emily Dennis, and Melanie Walsh who should all be better with a year behind them.

New to the team is one transfer and three recruits. Arriving from Winnipeg is Kierstyn Bakker, who has CIS experience at the University of Manitoba, and who provides superior ability and makes the team even deeper. Freshmen Alicia Jack, Khira Adams, and Rebecca Steckle all bring some new skills to the roster, and while they adjust to the next level of competition, projections are for them to contribute to making the team better.

The competitive parity in the OUA makes every match important, and having home court advantage for the playoffs is the aim of every team. The Burridge court has been a tough place for opponents to get wins in recent years, and the Marauders are counting on the Maroon faithful to get behind the team and show their support.

The Marauders face the York Lions at 6 p.m. in Burridge Gymnasium on Saturday night.