Marauders unable to weather Gaels

vball_macpink-41The McMaster Marauders’ second marathon match in as many days ended in heartbreak, as the women’s volleyball team lost in five sets to the Queen’s Gaels after mounting a late comeback in the fourth.

Set scores in the Ontario University Athletics contest were 25-14, 12-25, 25-13, 23-25, 15-9 for the Gaels (12-4), who withstood a Marauder run in the fifth set to defend home court and clinch a home playoff berth.

McMaster (9-8) had won a five-set decision at the Royal Military College the night before, but fell just short after a spirited comeback to force a fifth set on Sunday (Feb. 3). The Marauders can now finish no better than fifth in the OUA, and will have to play a quarter-final game on the road.

Kailee Stock had a team-high 12 points and nine kills for the Marauders, while Shannon McRobert and Mira Krunic each added 11. Krunic excelled from the service line, notching six aces to only a single error.

Colleen Ogilvie led the Gaels – and the match – with 15 points on Sunday, including 14 kills.

McMaster endured a rocky start to the match, struggling to pass in the face of consistent service from Queen’s. The Gaels reeled off a five-point run to gain separation in the first with Kelsey Bishop at the line, and carried a 16-9 lead into the technical timeout when Lauren Mastroluisi was stuffed by a double block.

The break did little to stem the tide, and Queen’s enjoyed another extended run of service – this time courtesy of setter Anna Pedjase – to put the set out of reach. The Gaels sealed the first by an 11-point margin with Amanda Weldon’s serve sailed long for 25-14.

The visitors got off to a much better start in the second set, as McRobert strung together a consistent effort at the service line and the Marauders took a 6-2 lead. McMaster continued to serve consistently and challenge the Queen’s passers, and the Marauders took their chances with the Gaels off balance.

Weldon chose well to find the floor with the dump for 11-3, as the Marauders raced to an 11-point lead before the Gaels brought their run to an end. That lead held easily as McMaster closed out a dominant second set.

Krunic forced consecutive reception errors from the Gaels in the late going, and the Marauders struck back after a lopsided first set with a 25-12 win in the second.

Queen’s jumped out to an early lead to begin the third, but McMaster responded well after a time out to tie the set at six through a cross-court kill from Stock. The third opened closely, but the Gaels opened a 13-9 lead after Katie Neville tooled the block from the right. The home side would not look back from there.

The advantage stretched to 16-10 at the technical timeout, and only grew as the set came to a close. The passing troubles that plagued the Marauders in the first set reappeared in the third, and the Gaels closed out the set with a double block for 25-13.

The outlook was grim for McMaster when the visitors fell behind 4-0 to start the fourth, but a slew of errors from Queen’s helped them take an 8-7 lead. The Gaels pushed back to retake the lead at the technical timeout, taking a 16-13 advantage into the break after Krunic’s attack from the right landed just wide of the line.

Queen’s looked poised to take the set, but McMaster had other ideas. The Marauders clawed the fourth back to a tie, and won the final three points of the set to edge past the Gaels 25-23 after a Krunic ace and an attack error by Ogilvie.

Momentum was on the side of the visitors as the fifth and deciding set began, and McMaster claimed four of the first five points to force Queen’s into a timeout after Mastroluisi’s roll clipped the tape and found the floor.

Each team enjoyed runs as the Marauders changed ends with an 8-7 lead, but it was one final shift in the Gaels’ favour that decided the match. The hosts reeled off eight consecutive points from 9-7 down to win the fifth and the match after Stock misfired for the Marauders.