McMaster appeared well on its way to victory in London on Saturday (Oct. 26), but Western had other plans. The Mustangs clawed back from two sets down to send the match into a fifth, before the Marauders rebounded to take the deciding set 15-10 and the match 3-2 (25-22, 25-20, 19-25, 18-25, 15-10) in Ontario University Athletics men’s volleyball.
Second-year outsides Stephen Maar and Jayson McCarthy led the 2-0 Marauders with 16 points apiece in the win. Maar converted 13 of 33 hitting attempts and added two aces and two block assists, while McCarthy was 13 of 28 with two aces and two block assists.
Jori Mantha was McMaster’s most efficient attacker yet again, converting 13 of 23 attempts with just two errors (47.8 per cent) and adding five block assists.
The visiting Marauders rode a seven-point run with Alex Elliot at the service line taking them to a healthy 11-6 lead early in the first set. McMaster would not relinquish that lead, padding it once again with a four-point run late in the set, before a combo block by Elliot and Maar brought the first set to an end.
The teams traded points early in the second, until McMaster won four of five points to take a 16-12 lead into the technical timeout after another combo block, this time from setter Austin Campion-Smith and middle Tyson Alexander. Western got no closer than that four-point deficit, and lost the set when Garrett May’s serve harmlessly thumped into the net.
The Marauders seemed the crisper of the two teams through two, and there was little reason to expect the Mustang surge that followed in the third set. But after a close opening, the hosts pounced to score four straight and take a 14-10 lead. The Mustangs entered the technical timeout four points later, and their momentum only built from there.
Western won seven of the next 11 points as its lead bloomed to eight, 24-16, when Doug Austrom killed to bring up set point. The Marauders staved off the inevitable for three points, before setter Sean McKay took matters into his own hands, dumping to seal the set.
A massive, eight-point run for the Mustangs took them into the technical timeout in the fourth set, and essentially ended the frame at 16-8. McMaster gamely battled to within five points after consecutive kills by Jori Mantha and a Matt Silver error made the score 23-18. But the set was over two points later, and the Marauders consigned to playing a fifth when setter Andrew Kocur was whistled for a double touch.
The finish was destined to be nail-biting, and McMaster held only a slim 8-7 lead at the fifth-set changeover when rookie Brandon Koppers notched his only kill of the night. But the Marauders found consistency in the closing stages, and won seven of the last 10 points to claim victory.
Western stumbled to the loss, chasing a Phil James service error that brought up match point with a defensive miscue that saw two Mustangs collide and watch as the ball found the floor.