Rams unable to knock Marauders in loss column

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

(Photo: Fraser Caldwell/McMaster Athletics)

Danny Demyanenko had one of his strongest efforts of the season – both on the attack and the block – as the Marauder men’s volleyball team overcame a pesky Ryerson Rams team in four sets on Sunday (Jan. 19) in an Ontario University Athletics encounter.

Last season’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport Rookie of the Year tallied a game-high 18 points while converting nine of 14 hitting attempts while adding three aces and six total blocks in the win. Jori Mantha was McMaster’s – and the game’s – second-leading scorer with 17 points on 13 kills, an ace and three blocks.

Set scores were 25-19, 16-25, 25-23, 25-20 for the Marauders, who remained unbeaten in OUA play with a 14-0 record. The CIS No. 1-ranked team is six points clear of its closest competitors in the conference.

McMaster seemed well in control early, racing to a 16-10 lead at the first set technical timeout, and clinching the frame without much worry with a triple block for 25-19. But Ryerson would show its credentials – and some resilience – with a dominant response in the second.

The Rams built a slender 16-13 lead at the technical timeout, but immediately built upon it after the break, and forced Marauder head coach Dave Preston to call one of his own timeouts trailing by five at 19-14. With momentum clearly in their corner, the hosts pressed their advantage and won six of the next eight points to level the match at a set apiece.

Ryerson became just the third OUA team to win a set against McMaster this season.

The hosts started strongly in the third, and led the Marauders 9-6 before the visitors reeled off four consecutive points and forced a timeout from the Rams. Having snatched the lead, McMaster would not relinquish it, and carried a three-point advantage into the technical timeout when Alex Dawson’s attack flew wide.

There was still fight left in the Rams, who closed within a point of the Marauders in the closing moments of the third, but ultimately lost out when Stephen Maar won the joust on set point.

Much as they had in the third, the hosts started well in the fourth set, riding a strong blocking performance to an early 5-2 lead. The two teams played side-out volleyball into the technical timeout, where Ryerson held a one-point advantage. But the Marauders emerged the stronger from the break, and sealed the match with a Demyanenko ace for 25-20.

McMaster will face one of the sternest tests of its season on Friday (Jan. 24), when the Marauders travel to Waterloo to battle the 11-3 Warriors. Waterloo bested McMaster at the teams’ holiday tournament in Florida, and the Marauders needed five sets to overcome the Warriors at home when they last met in conference play.