McMaster Marauders, down 2-1, staged a comeback to defeat the Western Mustangs in five sets for their first win of the Ontario University Athletics women’s volleyball season on Saturday (Oct. 26).
The Marauders endured a back-and-forth battle to emerge from London with the 3-2 win by set scores of 25-20, 12-25, 22-25, 25-20, 16-14.
Rookie outside hitter Sophie Bukovec was the Marauders’ leading scorer once again as the high-usage hitter, tallying 20 points on 16 of 53 hitting with three aces and two block assists. Lauren Mastroluisi was steady with fewer touches, chipping in 12 kills on 31 attempts with four errors (25.8 per cent).
McMaster roared out of the gate on Saturday night, winning seven of the first eight points in the opening set to establish a commanding early lead. Errors by the host Mustangs helped the Marauders maintain that lead, and McMaster carried a 16-10 advantage into the technical timeout after consecutive combo blocks featuring Maicee Sorensen.
The Marauders forged ahead, and led by as many as 10 points, when the Mustangs were called on a double touch for 23-13. Western reeled off a six-point run to come within four, but McMaster buckled down to seal the set three points later.
Another Mustang run spelled trouble for the Marauders in the second set, as Western notched three aces over the course of a six-point streak to take an 11-3 lead. The trend continued at the technical timeout, where Western’s advantage stretched to nine points. McMaster could do nothing to claw back and Western took the set when Steph Kreuter killed for 25-12.
The hosts won four of the first five points in the third set, and held the lead early, before McMaster began to chip away. The Mustangs clung to a 16-14 advantage at the technical timeout, but the Marauders overtook them when a Mastroluisi kill and Bukovec ace made the score 20-18.
But the tide turned again when Western reeled off four consecutive points to retake the lead, which it would not relinquish in the set, winning on the strength of a Kenzie MacDonald kill for 25-22.
The Marauders appeared completely deflated to begin the fourth, conceding eight of the first nine points in the set. But Bukovec took to the service line to begin the comeback, killing once and finding the floor with two aces as McMaster slashed its deficit. The teams traded points until Bukovec returned to the service line and the Marauders won four straight points for a 17-15 advantage.
McMaster would not fall behind again in the set, winning seven of the next eight points to build an insurmountable advantage, and sealing the set with a kill by Sorensen.
The abbreviated fifth set was suitably close, with both teams piecing together small runs to stay within reach, and sitting tied at 14 before the Marauders’ final move. Alicia Jack killed to return serve, and a match point, to McMaster, before Caitlin Genovy’s serve found the floor for a match-winning ace.