Photo by Kyle West
By: Coby Zucker
With the departure of veteran outside hitter Brandon Koppers after capping out his eligibility last season, a void was created in the McMaster men’s volleyball team. Starting the season with a blistering 6-1 record, it’s safe to say the Marauders are managing well enough, thanks in part to the dependable play of third-year setter, David Doty.
Recognition was quick to come to Doty, who received the McMaster Pita Pit Athlete of the Week award following his strong early performances against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues and the highly-ranked University of Windsor Lancers, both in three-set sweeps.
“It wasn’t really something I was expecting,” said Doty. “I think I was more concerned about coming out of Windsor with a win. Going into someone’s gym when they’re sixth- or fifth-ranked in the country, and you have a chance to take them down in their gym, it kind of takes over your mind over your own personal [performance]. I mean, it was nice to have that recognition and I’m very thankful for it, but I think it’s more concerning myself with coming out of Windsor with a big win.”
As the starting setter for the Marauders, Doty is responsible for leading the offence on the court.
“Coach [Dave Preston] and I, we meet twice a week or so,” Doty said. “We go over how we want to run an offence against a team. We have a pretty good idea of how we like to run our offence. I think we have this idea of, if something’s working, just keep going at it. If something’s not working, we adjust and go from there.”
But even the best-laid plans need to be executed. You can toss up a pass, but someone’s got to smack it down. In the early parts of the season, that someone has been outside hitter, Andrew Richards. Second in Ontario University Athletics in hitting percentage at .374, Richards has been a force to be reckoned with over the team’s first seven games. The chemistry between Doty and Richards is hardly new; the two have been playing together over the past six years, both getting their start at Oakridge Secondary School in London, Ontario.
“Over the years it’s gotten easier and easier connecting with him cause we’ve played together that much,” said Doty. “We kind of just know what each other are doing. And he’s a freak human. He’s able to get up, to jump to balls I don’t expect him to, but you know every time he gets up there, he seems to cut the ball off at the highest point possible.”
Doty was quick in pointing the off-the-court leadership of Richards, along with the team’s other fifth-year, Connor Santoni, who is currently sporting a handlebar moustache, matching Doty’s own. Previously acting as a utility player for the team, Santoni has started to see increased playing time in his final season.
“[Richards] and Santoni, the leaders of this team, the two fifth-year guys, they’ve always done a good job of leading us,” Doty said. “They put their blood, sweat and tears into this program, so we appreciate everything they do.”
And needless to say, that effort has been paying off. Despite Doty’s assertion that the competition this year is fiercer than ever, with most teams in striking distance of one another, the Marauders opened the season with two sweeps. The Queen’s University Gaels were able to put a damper on the early momentum after a tough 2-3 loss.
“Well the first two sets against Queen’s, they played outstanding,” said Doty. “They were passing well, they were digging some balls we weren’t really expecting them to be digging up. And we made too many errors, which is why we lost that game.”
— McMaster Athletics (@McMasterSports) November 25, 2018
That game seemed to only be a slight hitch for the Marauders who have since bounced back with four straight three-set sweeps over the Royal Military College of Canada, Trent University, the University of Waterloo, and the University of Guelph. So far, Doty and the rest of the team have been putting together a run that is shaping up to be a fitting send-off for the team’s two fifth-years.