If the McMaster women’s volleyball team had any hope of a first-place finish in the West Division of Ontario University Athletics, a win over the division leading Guelph Gryphons was a necessity. And the Marauders were able to do just that on Sunday (Jan. 26), beating Guelph 3-1 in Hamilton to pull even with the Gryphons in the loss column.
As would be expected from two teams dueling for the division lead, the set opened with the teams trading points with McMaster ahead 16-14 at the technical timeout. The Marauders opened a small gap at 19-15 forcing Guelph to take a timeout to halt the Maroon momentum. The Gryphons fought back to tie the set at 23-23 but the Marauders scored the next two points to take the set and grab the lead in the match.
The second set was even tighter and saw the Gryphons lead 16-15 at the technical break. McMaster moved ahead 23-22 and looked like it would take the set but Guelph didn’t quit and tied the score at 24-24 to force extra points. Twice McMaster had set point with service and put the serve into the net, allowing Guelph to stay alive. Tied at 26-26, the Gryphons sent over two tough serves and evened the match with a 28-26 win.
With the match even at a set apiece, McMaster grabbed an early lead in the third set and maintained it. Leading 16-10 at the technical timeout, Guelph could get no closer than five points and the set ended with the Marauders winning 25-19. The Marauders got strong production from outside players Kierstyn Bakker, Lauren Mastroluisi, and Sophie Bukovec.
Needing the fourth set to extend the match, Guelph took an early 10-7 lead, but McMaster fought back to lead by one at the technical timeout, 16-15. Riding the momentum, the Maroon opened a 20-16 lead, forcing the Gryphons to call their final timeout. Guelph managed to close to within a point at 23-22, but the Marauders then called a timeout of their own and finished off the set 25-23 and the match, 3-1.
It was a very balanced effort from the Marauders with five players hitting double digits in scoring. Lauren Mastroluisi led the offense with 18 kills, and Maicee Sorensen was selected the BIG MAC player of the game for her strong match both ways at the net.
Guelph libero Kristen Almhjell was the Gryphon player of the game, registering an outstanding 25 digs in the match and passing flawlessly.
The Marauders improve to 10-5, standing second in the OUA West, while Guelph falls to 12-5. The Gryphons still lead the division, but the Marauders have two games in hand on Guelph and also move two games ahead of Windsor in the race for playoff positioning.