The McMaster Marauders made history on Saturday night (March 1) to punch their ticket to the men’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport volleyball title match.
McMaster swept the Western Mustangs of London in a rematch of the Ontario University Athletics championship final and reached the national final for the first time in Mac’s program, becoming the first OUA team to reach that stage since the Toronto Varsity Blues managed the feat in 1991.
Set scores were 25-23, 27-25, 25-21 for the Marauders, who have not dropped a set through two matches at the CIS final tournament.
Rookie outside hitter Jayson McCarthy left his best performance of the season for the largest stage, posting a game-high 17 points and 15 kills on 28 attempts with only two errors (.464). CIS Rookie of the Year Dany Demyanenko added 12 points and 10 kills on 15 attempts with two errors (.600).
The Marauders held OUA Player of the Year Garrett May effectively in check throughout their semifinal encounter, as he scored 11 points, but converted on only 10 of his 31 hitting attempts and committed seven errors (.097).
McMaster will meet tournament host Laval Rouge et Or after they qualified for the title match thanks to a thrilling five-set semifinal win over the No. 1-ranked Brandon Bobcats. The Rouge et Or lost 3-1 to Trinity Western in last year’s championship match.
McMaster carved out an early lead and forced Western to call time when Dan Groenveld’s overpass went untouched to the floor for 10-6. The typically fearsome middle attack employed by the Marauders was on display early with Demyanenko leading the charge.
The OUA champions held their early lead into the technical timeout, taking a four-point advantage into the break after a well-chosen tip from the pipe found the floor between Western’s defenders. A double block on the left gave the Marauders a measure of separation late in the set, as they led 23-21 and forced the Mustangs to take their second timeout.
A Jori Mantha cross-court kill from the left brought up set point, before Alan Screaton’s serve found the net to clinch the opening set for McMaster.
The teams played side-out volleyball to begin the second, until Garrett May took to the service line to open up an advantage for the Mustangs. Western’s block came alive as the teams headed to the technical timeout, and a combination stuff brought the Mustangs to the break with a 16-12 lead.
Luke Sim and Screaton combined once again to force the Marauders into a timeout at 21-18, but McMaster struck back immediately after to level the set. Screaton with the block – Demyanenko with the quick 24-all.
Western had been blocking well throughout the second set, but it was the Marauders who found two key blocks to bring the set to an end and take a commanding 2-0 lead. Tyson Alexander and Jayson McCarthy combined well to produce a stuff on the right for 26-25, before the Marauders ended the set with a solo block in the middle.
Despite losing a deflating second set and facing another uphill climb, the Mustangs showed no sign of fading to begin the third. They matched the Marauders stride for stride in the early stages, as the teams returned to side-out volleyball.
That trend continued as the teams moved toward the technical timeout, with McMaster taking a slim 16-14 lead into the break when Western was called for a net violation. That small window of opportunity was all that the Marauders needed to book their place in the CIS final.
McCarthy put the full force of his 6’8” frame into an attack from the right that forced the Mustangs to call their second timeout at 22-20, and he would repeat the trick on the very next point. Demyanenko struck again from the middle to bring up set points at 24-20, when his quick attack wiped off the block and fell long.
The match was over two points later, when the Western scrambled a pass over the net and the Marauders ruthlessly killed the offering for 25-21 and 3-0.
The CIS championship match will be played at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, and will be streamed live at http://cis-sic.tv