The McMaster Marauders maintained their four-point lead atop Ontario University Athletics men’s volleyball with a 3-1 set decision over the Queen’s Gaels on Saturday (Feb. 1). Set scores were 25-21, 22-25, 25-20, 25-13 for the Marauders who improved to 17-1 on the season.
It was a balanced offensive afternoon for McMaster, without a lone standout. Four players entered double digits in points, and Danny Demyanenko led all Marauders with 13 points while converting 10 of 15 hitting attempts and adding two aces and a block. Stephen Maar (12.5), Tyson Alexander (12) and Brandon Koppers (11.5) rounded out the double-digit scorers.
McMaster had the edge from the opening serve in the first set, and took a fairly confident 16-13 lead into the technical timeout. The host Gaels struggled with sloppy play on offence and at the service line, and a typical Markus Trence service error moved the Marauders to set point at 24-21. On the very next point, Demyanenko floated a deep serve the Gaels could not return, bringing the first set to a close.
Where they had looked a step behind earlier, the Gaels recovered quickly after their setback while the Marauders saw their play fall in the second set. Queen’s took an early 6-2 lead after a Philippe Goyer ace, and the Gaels would not be caught. The gap widened to seven points at the technical timeout, and despite a late push for respectability by the Marauders, Queen’s had five set points when McMaster was called on the net for 24-19. Three points later, Trence hammered a line drive into the block and the Marauders were unable to scramble the ball back into play, ending the set 22-25 for the hosts.
Play tightened in the third set, with neither team able to distance itself in the early stages. Side-out volleyball carried the teams into the technical timeout with McMaster enjoying a 16-15 lead after a hitting error by Goyer. But the Marauders found separation when Maar took to the service line, and led 19-15 after he bombed an ace that left the Gaels rooted to the spot. Momentum was McMaster’s and Koppers put the set to bed with consecutive kills, firing cross court from the left and down the line from the right to clinch it 25-20.
Having reclaimed the initiative, the Marauders took full control of the match in the fourth set, and reeled off nine of the first 11 points to effectively knock the Gaels out of contention. The lead swelled to 16-6 at the technical timeout, and 18-7 when Goyer missed his mark cross court. Maar brought up match point with a cross-court kill to end a stout defensive rally from McMaster, and two points later, Koppers ended the afternoon by painting the line on the left for 25-13 and 3-1.
The Marauders will conclude their conference season next weekend, as they welcome the York Lions to the Burridge Gym on Friday (Feb. 7) before the Nipissing Lakers pay a visit on Saturday.