Marauders celebrate holidays with clean volleyball mark

McMasterMcMaster Marauders, ranked No. 1 nationally in university men’s volleyball, will take a perfect 10-0 record into the holiday break after a straight sets victory over the Guelph Gryphons on Saturday (Nov. 30).

Jori Mantha led the Marauders, and the match, with a total of 16 points, converting 14 of 34 hitting attempts with four errors (29.4 per cent) and adding a solo block and an ace in the Ontario University Athletics contest. Fellow outside Stephen Maar made efficient use of his 20 touches, putting nine to the floor versus just two errors (35 per cent) and adding two aces of his own.

McMaster endured a nightmare start to Saturday’s match, as Guelph’s Patrick Strzalkowski stepped up to the service line and fired four consecutive aces to give the Gryphons an early 5-0 lead in the first set.

The Marauders quickly regrouped and stayed within striking distance of the hosts, eventually overtaking the Gryphons after the technical timeout. Winning five of seven points, McMaster leveled the set at 19 with a kill by Mantha. Side-out volleyball prevailed as the teams moved toward the finish line, and McMaster pipped Guelph when Mantha followed an error by Tim Warnholtz with a set-clinching kill for 26-24.

Another quick start moved Guelph into an early lead in the second set, before McMaster reeled off an 8-2 run to move ahead 10-7 when Maar thumped his second consecutive ace. The Marauders held their lead well, and saw it grow to 16-12 at the technical timeout when Guelph’s Luke Woud was unable to keep his serve in-bounds.

A four-point run brought the Gryphons to within one at 17-18, but the Marauders quickly responded, and sealed the set when Strzalkowski’s attack flew wide of the mark.

The third set was a tight affair, and remained that way until the technical timeout, where McMaster took a slim one-point lead into the break after a kill from Tyson Alexander. A three-point run from the Marauders proved to be decisive, as consecutive attacking errors by Strzalkowski moved the visitors ahead 20-17, a lead they would not relinquish. Guelph saved two match points, before Alexander ended the match with his fifth kill of the night.

Mac’s OUA schedule resumes on Jan. 10 when the 8-2 Western Mustangs visit the Burridge Gym.