It’s nice to be No. 1 in Canada, but the McMaster men’s volleyball team got a taste of what being a target means as the Waterloo Warriors gave the Marauders all they could handle before losing a 3-2 match on Friday (Nov. 29).
There was a sense from the start that Waterloo would bring its best effort against McMaster in a clash of the top two teams in Ontario University Athletics standings. The opening set saw Mac with a narrow 16-14 edge at the technical break, but the Marauders managed to grow the lead to 20-15, and a combination of solid serving and errors by the Warriors allowed McMaster to take the first set 25-19.
Set-two was closely contested with McMaster leading 13-9, when a series of Marauders passing errors got the Warriors even at 15-15. Fighting to avoid a two-set deficit, Waterloo needed a timeout at 18-20 to stop the Maroon momentum. McMaster continued to struggle with its serve reception and the Warriors evened the match with a 25-23 win.
The third set will haunt Waterloo as the Warriors thoroughly outplayed the Marauders and looked poised to grab the lead in the match. Leading 18-12 Waterloo took its collective foot off the McMaster throat and gave the Marauders some life. McMaster rallied to tie the match at 20-20, and the set turned into a slugfest. Going into extra points, both teams had chances to win and every point had fans cheering as if a title was at stake. Finally, it was the Warriors who missed on a timing play and the Marauders prevailed 32-30 to take a 2-1 set lead.
Despite missing an opportunity, Waterloo showed its mettle and battled in the fourth set, determined to force a fifth. Leading 22-17, Waterloo again allowed McMaster to close the gap but managed to hold on for a 25-23 win to even up the match.
Playing its second five-set match in OUA play this year, McMaster took the early lead to dispel Waterloo notions of an upset. Leading 8-5 at the crossover, McMaster let the Warriors battle back to even at 8-8. The Marauders then went up 11-8 and were able to maintain the lead for a 15-11 victory that gave them the match.
The BIG MAC Player of the game was middle Danny Demyanenko, who finished with 22.5 points that included 16 kills. Jayson McCarthy and Alex Elliot had strong matches also with 17 and 11.5 points respectively. Waterloo’s James Evans had 10 points for the Warriors and was named player of the game.
McMaster will have an opportunity to improve its league leading 9-0 record when the Marauders travel to Guelph on Saturday (Nov. 30) to play the 3-6 Gryphons.