Mac takes university division in Florida volleyball tourney

McMasterThe top-ranked Marauder men’s volleyball team overcame a slow start to claim the 2014 Alden Cup title in St. Petersburg, Florida.

McMaster finished 2-1 over three days of competition Jan. 2-4, and edged the Waterloo Warriors on set differential to take top spot in the university division. The tournament featured a four-team university section of McMaster, Waterloo, Calgary Dinos, and Montreal Carabins, alongside a separate, four-team Canadian colleges division.

The Marauders opened the tournament against Ontario University Athletics rival Waterloo, and were narrowly edged 15-13 in the fifth and deciding set. With that early setback quickly behind it, the team made immediate improvements the following day, and won a four-set contest against Montreal to level its record at 1-1.

Second-year middle Danny Demyanenko was a key cog in the victory, converting 12 of his 14 hitting attempts and adding six block assists and one solo block. Outside Stephen Maar enjoyed a tidy match defensively, notching 10 digs on the afternoon.

The third day was the most impressive for the Marauders, who pitted their starters against the Dinos’ best and came away with a straight-sets win (25-18, 25-21, 26-24). Jori Mantha converted 12 of 24 hitting attempts to lead McMaster in the victory, while middle Alex Elliot was 8-11 and setter Austin Campion-Smith amassed 37 assists.

The sweep was enough to push the Marauders past the Warriors – who also boasted a 2-1 record – on set differential.

Following his efficient showing in Saturday’s finale, Mantha was named tournament MVP.

McMaster returns to conference play on Friday (Jan. 10), when the Marauders welcome the Western Mustangs to the Burridge Gym to kick off Marauder Weekend. That match will get underway at 8 p.m.