No. 1 Marauders too much for York Lions

McMasterA season ago, the York Lions and the Tait McKenzie Gym provided the setting for the Marauders’ only blemish of the regular season in Ontario University Athletics men’s volleyball.

But no such upset was on the cards when McMaster returned to York on Sunday afternoon (Nov. 24) when the Marauders ground out another straight-set victory against a quality Lions team.

The Canadian Interuniversity Sport No. 1-ranked and undefeated Marauders defeated the Lions 25-18, 25-23 and 27-25 to extend their winning streak to open the OUA season to eight games. With the sweep, McMaster has now gone six matches without dropping a set, and has won 24 of 26 sets played thus far.

Second-year outside Jayson McCarthy led the Marauders and the match with 13.5 points in the win, with 12 kills and an ace to his name. The most efficient Marauder on the day was middle Danny Demyanenko, who converted 10 of his 14 hitting attempts without an error (71.4 per cent) while adding an ace and a solo block.

The Lions entered Sunday’s contest with a sparkling 7-2 record, and demonstrated why they remain among the OUA’s best in giving the Marauders one of their sternest tests of the season.

Side-out volleyball ruled early in the opening set, with little to choose between the two teams as they barreled toward the technical timeout. But the Marauders struck with setter Austin Campion-Smith toeing the service line to embark on a five-point run and take an 18-14 lead after a kill from Jori Mantha. That advantage proved to be all that McMaster needed, as the Marauders comfortably carried the final stage of the set and sealed it when an attack from York’s Marko Dakic flew well long of the back line.

The visitors pounced early in the second, producing a 6-1 run capped by McCarthy’s lone ace that gave McMaster a 7-3 lead and sent York to its first team timeout. Despite their early setback, the hosts showed no signs of relenting, and remained within striking distance of McMaster when Ray Szeto’s service error sent the Marauders into the technical timeout with a slim 16-14 advantage.

McMaster appeared on the verge of victory in the second when Demyanenko killed for 22-19, but York reeled off three consecutive points to level the set. Their bread-and-butter play – the quick-set middle attack – brought up set point for the Marauders, before they eked out the second by coming out on the winning end of the match’s best rally.

York had the upper hand and hammered away offensively, while McMaster scrambled bravely to survive, until libero Pawel Jedrzejewski produced an impressive back-set that Mantha squeezed to the floor for 25-23.

It appeared for much of the third set that McMaster’s spotless streak was about to come to an end. York led for the majority of the game, but fell victim to a late Marauder surge.

All was well for the hosts when serving substitution Jade Cameron carried out his assignment and found the floor with an ace for 23-21. But the Marauders responded with consecutive points, and dodged two set points against, before closing out their sixth-consecutive sweep.

Mantha brought up match point with consecutive kills from the left, and McCarthy provided the dagger when he alertly leaped to meet a free ball and overpowered his man on the joust.

McMaster will put its spotless season on the line when it welcomes the 7-2 Waterloo Warriors to the Burridge Gym on Friday (Nov. 29). That match has an 8 p.m. start, following the women’s match.