Blues extinguish Marauders volleyball spark

The Marauder women’s volleyball team was defeated 3-1 by the Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 2).

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

McMaster found a spark to prolong its afternoon, but it wasn’t strong enough to produce with an Ontario University Athletics win as the Marauders fell to the visiting Toronto Varsity Blues 3-1 (21-25, 17-25, 25-23, 16-25).

Jennifer Neilsen had a game-high 17.5 points for Toronto (2-2) while converting 14 of 27 hitting attempts.

Outside hitter Joanna Jedrzejewska and middle Alicia Jack both cracked double digits for the Marauders (1-3), with Jack converting eight of 13 attempts and adding an ace and a solo block while Jedrzejewska went 7-16 with two aces and two block assists.

The match began well for the Marauders, as they took an early lead and forced the Varsity Blues to call time when Lauren Mastroluisi tooled the block on the left for 8-5 in the first set. But McMaster’s passing began to degrade and Toronto got the better of the rallies as the set wore on, edging ahead 16-14 at the technical timeout. The Varsity Blues put together a strong offensive series to gain separation and polish off the opening set by a four-point margin.

The outlook worsened for the Marauders in the second, as their passing struggles continued and were joined by frequent hitting errors. Toronto remained steady, and opened up an insurmountable lead midway through the set. A Mira Krunic block on the outside narrowed the gap to six points, but that was as close as McMaster would come in the second.

The home side trailed yet again to open the third, but would battle back into contention with Jedrzejewska toeing the service line. Her run ended at 13-12, but had succeeded in giving McMaster the lead. The Varsity Blues rebounded to lead at the technical timeout, but more timely serving kept the Marauders in it, as Melanie Walsh worked wonders in a spot-serving role.

The teams were playing side-out volleyball in the set’s final points, until Toronto’s Caleigh Cruickshank pushed an attack long to give McMaster a 23-21 lead. The hosts took advantage of their opening a few points later, when setter Caitlin Genovy found the floor with her second dump of the rally for 25-23.

Unfortunately for the Marauders, they were unable to carry the momentum of their third-set victory into the fourth. Instead, the Varsity Blues seized the initiative in the opening points, and watched their lead balloon to double digits. The visitors took a 16-6 lead into the technical timeout when an ace graced the back line, and never looked back from there.