McMaster is on a run of complete dominance.
In their last eight matches, the Marauders have swept their opponents seven times. On top of this, the team is currently coming off their eighth consecutive win.
“I think that the results have been a by-product of us just doing what we want to do from a tactical point,” said head coach Dave Preston.
And from a tactical point, the Marauders have made remarkable ground. They are serving well, passing well, and more importantly, playing defense well—which is a major component of their game that Preston was concerned about in previous weeks.
“We made 41 digs in three sets against Toronto, and we were averaging six digs a set a couple of weeks ago. So we’re now almost double that,” said Preston.
Preston credited the team’s huge improvements to their commitment to the sport.
When they are faced with a challenge, or are faced with an aspect of their game that they are not pleased with, they know how to respond.
“These guys never cease to amaze me, and we’ve really focused on it and have really, really improved—but we’re still not where we want to be,” said Preston.
While the coaches have seen some impressive things both on and off the court, with the likes of Peter Khodkevych and Andrew Richards coming in as freshmen and pulling their weight while some critical teammates are dealing with injuries, the team has not yet reached the standard of play that they want to hit yet.
When it comes to their performance so far at this point of the season, Preston feels as though he is very pleased with what he has seen, but he is nowhere near satisfied.
“We’re not close in a couple of areas … not as close as we want to be. And our guys know that, so the best part of these guys is I never have to spend a lot of time or energy motivating them to get going on this. They do that themselves,” said Preston.
The captains of the team are also playing a big role in keeping the team on track, as they are trying to apply three areas of focus to each individual athlete on the team.
“The critical pieces for us is our decision making, our communication and our execution,” said Preston.
“They are allowing our guys who are pulling a fair amount of weight to not feel like they are doing this alone…conceptually for a team, its taking the ‘me’ to a ‘we’ and it’s kind of cool.”
The Marauders have just one more game left until the exam break begins, and after exams, the team will get a much- needed reset period for about a week until they travel to Florida to compete in the Alden Cup tournament.
The team will leave for the eight-day trip on Dec. 27, where they will get to be host to eight teams, with seven out of those eight teams ranked within the top ten in Canada.
“It gives us a really good look at what other teams are doing,” said Preston.
Some notable teams that will be making the trip to Florida in late December include the Dalhousie Tigers, the Manitoba Bisons, and the No. 1 ranked team in the CIS, the Alberta Golden Bears.
“This year we’re doing an East vs. West challenge, so the four east teams are playing the four west teams,” said Preston.
The tournament will essentially serve as a precursor to the national tournament, as the Marauders will get to see and play against some of their rivals from Canada West, which will be beneficial for the purpose of information gathering for the coaches and players heading into the pivotal point of their season.
“It’s arguably the best tournament in North America right now,” said Preston.
The tournament officially starts on Jan. 1.
Until then, the Marauders will be taking care of business as usual, as they are set to travel to Guelph on Nov. 29.