Hamilton, ON- When the McMaster Marauders were on the cusp of completing their comeback, second-year outside hitter Abby Delamere tried to stay in the moment. When her moment came, she took it.
The Marauders women’s volleyball team had fought their way back against the Queen’s Gaels after falling behind the first two sets on Oct. 21. It was their second last preseason game. By the time it reached the fifth set, Delamere continued to make her mark.
She had two kills late in a close final set before finishing it off with an ace. Her teammates ran onto the court to celebrate with her.
“As cliché as it sounds, I don’t even think I really processed what the score was,” Delamere said. “I just went back and did what I needed to do again. Stayed calm, kept my composure and knew that…we were going to get it done.”
The Toronto native finished with a game-high 19 points and four service aces. She also had a team-high 14 kills. Throughout the game, she focused on staying in the moment and taking it one point at a time.
If Delamere did make a mistake, she tried to leave it in the past and move onto the next play. “Playing loose, playing free and staying in the moment for sure,” she described it.
The moment she’s in right now? Much different than where she was just a year ago. This time in 2022, Delamere was just starting her time with McMaster volleyball. A year before that, she already committed to McMaster, coming off her time at Humberside Collegiate Institute.
She had earned achievements at the high school, provincial and club level. However, it took time for her to get comfortable at McMaster. Her nerves have settled since then. “I trust the people around me and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Delamere noted. “I know my teammates support me and that’s able to keep me calm and collected.”
She felt that trust against Queen’s when they went down in the first two sets. She and the team didn’t panic – instead, focusing on their game and what they needed to do.
She felt the trust she had with her teammates. “We know the next person is going to make the play, if that’s not necessarily us making the play and that gets us through,” she noted.
In their comeback against the Gaels, Delamere and her teammates made those plays. Those around her saw her impact as well.
“She’s super dynamic and she’s also an awesome teammate,” setter Lauryn Colpitts said. “She’s always dialed in and ready to go. It’s also just really fun setting her.”
Delamere made an instant impact as a first-year, playing in 57 sets in 17 games last year, with 52 kills. What’s in store for her this season?
Marauders head coach Nathan Janzen pointed out how Delamere had a really good offseason, working really hard to make improvements. However, her preseason has been hit or miss because of a few nagging injuries.
That Queen’s game “was the first time she felt like she could really go,” Janzen said. “And it showed her potential is immense.”
What goes into that potential? She’s someone with a great head on her shoulders, according to the head coach. She’s an amazing student-athlete and a good leader, he added.
Her strength as well. “Abby in the gym is a beast,” Janzen said. “She’s very strong. She works really hard over there. She’s a great example for our team – especially for our younger athletes, our first year athletes.”
She was in their position a year ago, having made strides since then. Part of the process for younger players is figuring things out, Janzen pointed out. Growth isn’t linear. It means adjusting. It can be frustrating. It’s an ongoing process – even for Delamere.
“Even still to this day, she’s trying to figure out how fast she can be,” Janzen said. Delamere is very fast – but there’s a difference between playing fast and being a fast human being, something Delamere is starting to figure out. “The amount of processing is ridiculous,” Janzen said.
You can see it in the details. When she’s starting her approach. When she’s jumping. When she’s knows the ball is in a window for her to attack.
Beyond that, you can notice that difference in her mentality as well. She’s being more assertive, using her voice more, Janzen mentions.
When there’s a second ball to be had for instance. Last year, Delamere would hesitate and wonder whether that’s her ball to go after, according to Janzen. “This year there’s no hesitation,” he added. “She goes and gets it.”
That comes from confidence, which Delamere has found more of within herself. “Knowing what I’m capable of, staying aggressive and knowing that I’m going to make a play on the ball if I try my hardest,” she noted.
She also feels that support and confidence from her teammates. From Colpitts’ positivity for example. If she misses an attack, Colpitts will go right back to her. “That means the world,” Delamere said. “That means I have the confidence to swing away and be aggressive.”
The two of them connected time and time again against Colpitts’ former team that night. The former OUA All-Star finished with a team-high 30 assists – many of them to Delamere.
From her teammates’ energy on the bench – with their constant celebrations and encouragement – after those plays and points scored. They help keep her engaged and in the game. Delamere called them the best bench ever.
Janzen noticed an energy about Delamere’s performance that evening. He noticed it from her teammates as well. “I think the girls were almost as excited for her as she was for herself,” he said.
Featured Image: Kevin Lassel/McMaster Athletics