A bump in the road The 2017-2018 season started unexpectedly for the reigning women’s volleyball champions, but was just the beginning of a promising campaign

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By: Griffin Marsh

The McMaster women’s volleyball team, the reigning Ontario University Athletics champions, suffered a disappointing upset to the Ryerson Rams at home on Oct. 27, an unexpected start to a season that is full of hope, leadership and potential.

Coming into the 2017-2018 U Sports season home opener, the Marauders were riding high, initially ranked No. 4 in the country. The team was also coming off of a preseason tune-up in Ottawa at the end of September that saw the Marauders take all five possible victories.

The story on Friday night did not follow the same tune as the Marauders handled the first two sets, but quickly let the next three sets slip away, culminating in a 15-7 loss in the decisive fifth set.

This was McMaster’s first loss to Ryerson since Nov. 2014 and came as a complete surprise to most involved.

“It initially felt very good to be back underway, but unfortunately the game did not go the way we have liked it to,” said Maicee Sorensen, a fifth-year middle and one of the team’s captains. “We did not play the game we wanted to. Ryerson outplayed us, and they deserved the win. I am not happy about it, but again we will use this first game as inspiration to work harder and better for the next one.”

“We have a strong core group of players that have the skill and mindset that will bring us right to the end of the season and ultimately the U Sport championship at Laval.”

 

Carly Heath
Women’s Volleyball Team

It should be noted that Sorensen was a real bright spot for the Marauders against the Rams, notching 21 kills and a kill percentage of .750, easily the most efficient of any player on the floor. While the Marauders may have been outplayed on Friday, this does not seem to be an expected trend moving forward.

The Marauders carry four players on the roster who are heading into their final year of eligibility, and coming off an OUA championship and U Sports National Championship appearance last season, this team is battle tested. One of those players in her final year, along with Sorensen, is libero Carly Heath, who is excited about a lot of the upcoming season.

“We have a strong core group of players that I think have the skill and mindset that will bring us right to the end of the season and ultimately the U Sport championship at Laval in March,” said Heath.

For Heath, another key excitement is the opportunity to finish her time as a Marauder with the same women she started with four years prior.

“We’ve been through a mix of different teammates and wins and losses in the past four seasons together,” recalled Heath. “I’m super excited to end out my McMaster career here with these same girls that I came in with.”

When thinking about larger goals for this season, the message seemed to be reaffirmed by both Heath and Sorensen: a message centred on winning.

“We need to be better than the year before,” began Sorenson. She added, “This year is a little different in my head though. It is my fifth and final year, and we are coming off of a championship year so the expectations are quite high.”

While the expectations are high for this season, the Marauders boasted a packed preseason, playing nine games in a little over two weeks during September. While this may seem to be a burden for a lot of teams, Heath argued that it is key in allowing for routines and systems to be established.

“We had some time to get back into things and get more used to playing with some new members,” Heath said of the preseason. “Building off of what we learned in those preseason games and practices will be important in our actual league play to focus on what we need to do to be successful together.”

While Friday may have been an unexpected speed bump in the road for the Mac women, there is much to be excited about moving forward.

This roster is deep from top to bottom, boasting both new talent and veteran staff. Much of this team also knows what is needed and expected of in a grueling U Sports season, losing only two players to graduation last season.

Up next for the Marauders is the Waterloo Warriors in our own Burridge Gym, on Friday Nov. 3 at 6 p.m.

Don’t start stress eating your Halloween candy yet, volleyball fans. This team knows what is needed, and has proven it can adjust in the past. This season is fresh and there is a lot to look forward to.

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