The McMaster Marauders responded well after a heartbreaking first-set collapse to edge the Queen’s Gaels, 3-2 in sets on Saturday (Feb. 1) in a women’s Ontario University Athletics affair. After watching eight set points pass them by, and dropping the first set, the Marauders bounced back to win the second, third, and eventually the fifth.
Set scores were 25-27, 25-21, 26-24, 23-25, 15-10 for the Marauders, who upped their West Division record to 11-6. They had loss to RMC, 3-2, the previous night.
Joanna Jedrzejewska was the star of Saturday’s show, coming off the bench to score 20 points while converting 17 of 42 hitting attempts versus six errors (26.2 per cent) and adding two aces and a block. Taylor Brisebois (13.5), Maicee Sorensen (13), Mira Krunic (13) and Sophie Bukovec (12.5) also reached double digits on the scoreboard.
The signs were encouraging for McMaster in the opening set as a bright start saw Brisebois notch consecutive points to take the Marauders into the technical timeout with a 16-13 lead. Noticeably outdoing the Gaels in the backcourt, the Marauders seemed on the brink of a dominant first-set victory when Sophie Bukovec flew through the pipe to kill for 24-16 and eight set-point opportunities.
But Queen’s gave a demonstration of its nerve as McMaster self-destructed, and the Marauders conceded the last of their set points when the Gaels’ Brett Hagarty wiped off the block for 24-all. Three points later, Sorensen’s attempt sailed long and the Gaels took the first set 27-25. But instead, McMaster opened the second by winning five of the first seven points, and declared their intention to rebound.
The teams played side-out volleyball to the technical timeout, where the Gaels’ Katie Hagarty wiped off the block and deep for 16-15. But McMaster reeled off three consecutive points for a 21-18 lead, and would not be caught again in the second. Bukovec notched an ace to bring up set point at 24-21, before Queen’s was called for a net violation to level the match at a set apiece.
A sloppy start to the third set put McMaster on the back foot, and convinced head coach Tim Louks to make some adjustments to the lineup, including replacing Bukovec with Kierstyn Bakker. But another substitution began to make her presence felt, as Jedrzejewska struck repeatedly to draw the Marauders level.
The Gaels gained some separation in the late stages of the set, as an attacking error from Mira Krunic saw Queen’s move to within two points of the finish line at 23-20. But McMaster stormed back to win six of the next seven points, and stole the set when Jedrzejewska bombed a cross-court kill from the left for 26-24.
Momentum was in the Marauders’ favour early in the fourth set, and McMaster led 12-10 after Sorensen successfully executed a step-around kill. The two teams – who had been so evenly matched throughout – returned to side-out volleyball, before Queen’s edged ahead in the late stages.
With Shannon Hopkins at the service line, the Gaels reeled off seven straight points to take a 24-20 lead. McMaster made things interesting by saving three set points, before Niki Slikboer killed cross court to force a fifth set.
There, the Marauders edged ahead at the changeover when Sorensen once again converted on the step-around attempt for 8-6. Having grabbed the lead, McMaster would not look back, and brought up four match points when Jedrzejewska pushed a free ball into an open corner for 14-10. The Gaels’ Brett Hagarty fell victim to a double block as the Marauders brought the match to an end.
McMaster travels to St. Catharines to meet the Brock Badgers on Friday (Feb. 7) before returning home to conclude its conference season against the Ottawa Gee Gees the next day.