Youth was served as McMaster coach Tim Louks started four first-year players in Saturday night’s Ontario University Athletics West Division women’s volleyball quarter-final match with Windsor. The youngsters came through as the Marauder beat the Lancers 3-1 to advance to the OUA Final Four next week in Toronto.
In a do-or-die match, Louks started rookie outside hitters Sophie Bukovec and Joanna Jedrzejewska, middle Maicee Sorensen, and libero Carly Heath.
The Burridge Gym had an electric atmosphere as a healthy and vocal contingent made the long trip from Windsor to cheer on their Lancers. Equally as loud and enthusiastic were the Maroon faithful who came out to support the Marauders.
The noisy gym seemed to affect McMaster’s start and Windsor jumped in front, 5-2. It didn’t take long for the Marauders to get their bearings though and they tied the score 8-8 before pushing ahead to lead 16-11 at the technical timeout. Using some solid serving from Bukovec and Lauren Mastroluisi, McMaster maintained the lead and took the opening set, 25-18.
The second set was a roller-coaster ride as Windsor grabbed the early lead and was ahead at the technical timeout 16-8. That’s when the Marauders caught fire and came all the way back to tie the score at 17-17. McMaster carried the momentum all the way to a 24-20 lead and looked poised to take a two-set lead, but amazingly Windsor fought off the four set points and tied the score at 24. With the momentum clearly having shifted, the Lancers were able to win the set 27-25 to even the match at one set each.
With no idea how the team would react to letting Windsor off the hook, Louks stayed with the same line-up and his faith was justified. The Marauders jumped to a 9-4 lead, forcing Windsor to burn a timeout and bumped the lead to 16-7 at the technical break. The Marauders did a good job of locating Windsor outside Kaila Seguin and forcing her to face two blockers. McMaster won the third set, 25-16, to take a 2-1 lead in the match.
In the fourth set, Windsor was fighting for its season but the Marauders wanted to end the match. Leading 10-8 McMaster’s service game started to test the Lancers, who struggled with their passing. Mac was ahead 16-9 at the technical break and Windsor could not recover. Marauder setter Kayla Ng ran the offense smartly and kept all the Mac hitters involved. A big swing from Joanna Jedrzejewska at match point gave McMaster the 25-14 win and the match.
Jedrzejewska had a sensational match with 21 kills and only five errors for a kill-percentage of 41% and 23.5 points. Bukovec had 12 kills and 15 points in the match, while Mastroluisi, Sorensen, and Taylor Brisebois all had 9.5 points. Kayla Ng had 50 assists and kept Windsor guessing for the entire match.
In her final OUA match, Windsor’s Seguin led the Lancer attack with 14 kills and 15.5 points.
McMaster will play the host Toronto Varsity Blues on Saturday, Feb. 22 at noon. The other semi-final has Guelph playing Ottawa.