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The Women’s Volleyball team has been working to put more pressure on their opponents; last week, they got a taste of their own medicine.

McMaster faced an early two-set deficit at Windsor. Their backs were up against the wall seemingly as soon as they got on the court and they had to respond quickly or go down quietly.

The Marauders looked tired and out of sync. They weren’t the same electric team we saw against the Gee-Gees a week ago.

Traveling was part of the reason for their fatigue, but that is not a good excuse for underperforming according to fifth-year captain Taylor Brisebois.

“Everyone keeps saying how it’s really tough to play on the road and I don’t know if I agree. We can talk about the travel time and how we sat in the team room for an hour and a half just waiting to warm up, but I feel like it’s not a good excuse for how we performed,” said Brisebois. “It had to do with how we practiced all week.”

Thankfully the energy came back and the Marauders mustered an impressive comeback and stole three consecutive sets from the Lancers to win in five sets. Brisebois, Jedrzejewska, Mastroluisi, and Sorensen scored in double-digits to lead McMaster’s comeback.

Brisebois says her team’s strong response to the early deficit was partly out of fear.

“I think we adapted to their gameplay. We learned as we went. We started making fewer errors. Fear kind of struck us. We realized we had to respond when we were down two sets,” said Brisebois. “It just took us a while. We were asleep the first two sets.”

Fifth-year outside hitter Lauren Mastroluisi made in-game adjustments that garnered high praise from Head Coach Tim Louks.

“Lauren was fantastic. She bought in and she executed,” said Louks.

Brisebois was impressed with her teammate’s ability and proficiency in adjusting on the fly.

“She adapted by hitting a sharp cross shot. She would make Windsor’s libero play a really short, off-speed ball,” Brisebois said. “It was cool to see because it’s a shot I haven’t seen her do a lot, but she was killing it.”

The next night at Western was a different story. The Mustangs mellowed the Marauders’ high spirits from the Windsor comeback.

Western dropped a four-set decision at McMaster in November, but Western was without standout second year Kelsey Veltman — arguably the Mustangs’ best player.

This time Veltman was healthy and the Mustangs exposed some of the Marauders’ weaknesses.

Brisebois saw it happen right away.

“They blocked us a lot. We’re not used to getting blocked,” Brisebois said. “Usually we hit a ball, we score, we move on. Teams really know us now. Western knew our shot charts really well. We need to learn how to hit different shots because we’re getting too predictable.”

“That night Western was better than us,” Louks said.

Western got their revenge and handed McMaster the same four-set defeat Mac handed them in November. Veltman scored a quarter of Western’s total points and Brisebois had to give her middle counterpart credit.

“Her presence made a huge difference. She is amazing,” said Brisebois. “It was also a revenge match for them. They had that fire that I guess we lacked. We were hyped for that match, but not the way they were. They wanted revenge. Hopefully next time it’ll be like that for us.”

“Everyone keeps saying how it’s really tough to play on the road and I don’t know if I agree.”

The loss ended an impressive 11-match winning streak for McMaster and dropped them one spot to No. 7 in the latest CIS Top Ten poll.

“It was sad because I went into that game feeling really good. We won the first set and the second set was really close,” Brisebois said. “I think we were scared and holding back. We were scared of losing. We made errors everywhere.”

McMaster’s captain is aware that adjustments are necessary.

“We need to focus on minimizing errors and avoiding the block this week. Our error percentage was higher than usual. We look at a team like Toronto and they never miss,” said Brisebois. “That’s what we need to do. It’s not about how hard we can hit, but about not making errors and forcing our opponents to make errors.”

Louks thinks his team needs more replications of their opponents’ strategies so they can prepare better.

“In practice we need to show the girls more of what they can expect from our opponents. That’s on me,” said Louks. “I take that responsibility to help continue to inspire this group to find a way to put them in better places to be successful.”

No. 7 McMaster (12-2) hosts Lakehead (5-9) this Friday at Burridge. First serve is at 7 p.m.

Photo Credit: Alistar Boulby

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