HAMILTON, ON – The McMaster Marauders men’s volleyball team finished off an OUA regular season with a 12-0 record despite a stiff test from the visiting Windsor Lancers on Mar. 5.
It marked their third win of the season against Windsor. However, those victories haven’t come without some adversity. In their first meeting, the Lancers pushed McMaster to five sets – the only team to do so this season. In their second game, Windsor lost in three sets but were relatively close in all of them.
The trend continued Mar. 5 as Windsor got off to a quick start with a block by Luca Nastase. The Lancers would hold a slim lead throughout the set with some crucial points by Dami Alalade and Nastase. McMaster held a 24-23 lead with a chance to close out to set before errors by Sam Cooper and Max Gratton flipped the score.
After a tense back-and-forth, Windsor pulled away to win the set 28-26 thanks to a kill by Nastase and a block by Anthony Ivanovski and Gustavo Siquiera. It marks the first time the Marauders have dropped a set at home this season.
The second and third sets would remain close with the Lancers matching the Marauders attacks with kills of their own and setting up a wall with numerous blocks, sometimes in the same set.
In the second set, the Marauders received contributions from multiple players, including Cooper, Max Gratton, Navreet Suhan and Masteusz Wlodarski. Meanwhile, setter Robbie Fujisawa led the way with a team-high 42 assists and graduating senior Jordan Pereira led the team with 10 digs.
After the Lancers took another late 24-23 lead in the second thanks to a block by Alalade and Nastase, the Marauders finished strong with a couple of kills by Cooper and one by Tyler Pavelic to close out the set.
The third set is when the Marauders showed signs of starting to pull away. Like the first two sets, Windsor matched the Marauders on the scoreboard, taking a 15-14 lead. Then, the home side would make their run, scoring eight of the next nine points to take a 22-16 lead. The Marauders were able to mount a series of sustained and successful attacks, with three kills by Wlodarski in that run.
Windsor battled back but weren’t able to get close enough before Wlodarski finished off a couple more kills to win the set. The Marauders carried the momentum from the second half of the third set into the fourth.
Wlodarski continued to finish off sets by Fujisawa for points while Peter Rugosi and Sam Cooper notched kills as well. Wlodarski even had back-to-back service aces to extend the lead to 19-13. After a kill by Windsor’s Chad Kristalovich, the home side didn’t look back from there, scoring six straight points to finish the game.
It was capped off with a service ace by Cooper, who found the back corner. His teammates ran up to mob him afterwards as the team broke into a huddle and a brief team dance.
The Marauders will finish as the top seed in the OUA West division and will host the winner of the Windsor and Waterloo Warriors midweek game in the quarterfinals. The game on Saturday served as a possible playoff preview if the Lancers can win their first-round game.
Despite the loss, Windsor received solid contributions throughout the lineup, including Alalade, Nastase and Sean Spencer, who paced them with 10 kills and 13 points. Anthony DeGirolamo had a strong game as well with 32 out of the 39 assists.
Similar to their previous meetings, their potential playoff match could be a tight one as well.
Women Finish Strong Ahead of Western Rematch
Earlier in the week on Mar. 2, the McMaster women’s volleyball team dispatched the visiting Lancers in three straight sets to clinch the second seed in the OUA West – and a home playoff berth in the quarterfinals.
It was a balanced attack from the Marauders against Windsor with a number of different players all contributing to scoring. Sullie Sundara led the way with 16 points and 15 kills.
The Marauders finished with an 8-4 record and will take on the visiting Western Mustangs in the OUA quarterfinals. McMaster has beaten Western twice already this season: 3-0 at home on Feb. 10 and 3-1 on the road on Feb. 12. The winner will take on the winner of the Brock Badgers vs Waterloo Warriors/Windsor Lancers in the OUA semi-finals.
Featured Image: Rick Zazulak/McMaster Athletics