By: Ryan Tse
Anyone paying attention to the McMaster men’s volleyball team this season knows that they are a bona fide powerhouse.
After losing the first game of the season, the team has rattled off 10 straight wins, the past four being 3-0 straight set victories. They look poised to challenge for a fifth-straight Ontario University Athletics championship.
A big part of the team’s success so far has been the play of second-year setter David Doty. Despite his relative youth, Doty is one of the top setters in the OUA, averaging 9.6 assists per set, which puts him at third in the province.
What makes Doty’s performance even more impressive is the fact that he only began to play volleyball seriously in Grade 8. Born in Toronto, Doty began playing hockey as his primary sport at three years old. However, after moving to London, Ontario in Grade 6, he eventually switched to volleyball when he was 13.
Doty joined the London Volleyball Club Fire, a then-new local club opened by a friend’s father. From then on, he never looked back, playing for his high school team at Oakridge Secondary School and his club team, before joining the Marauders last year.
Doty’s transition from hockey to volleyball and his subsequent success on the court shows his athleticism, but also his love and dedication to sport.
“That was always on my radar — to be part of a program that’s up there on the provincial and national rankings.”
Men’s Volleyball Team
“You hear a lot about people switching from hockey to volleyball, but there’s also a lot of people that pick it up later than me that are probably better than me,” Doty said.
“I come from a pretty athletic family and there were always lots of sports involved. I kind of like learning about a lot of sports. [Volleyball]’s a fun sport to learn about and a fun sport to play.”
When deciding on a university, Doty, a second-year economics student, was drawn to McMaster by the success of their nationally-ranked volleyball program, in addition to its promising academics.
“I checked out the school, I liked what I saw, and the academics fit for me,” said Doty. “Obviously the volleyball program is pretty good, so that was also a good fit for me. I do not like to lose a lot, so I think I brought the mentality of wanting to help the program be one of the first Ontario schools to win a national title. That was always on my radar — to be part of a program that’s up there on the provincial and national rankings.”
Even though Doty is now the full-time setter for Mac, he often split time between left-side and setter before his time as a Marauder, getting extra reps as a setter for the provincial and youth national teams. However, since coming to McMaster he’s played solely at the setter position.
After an injury opened up playing time, he played in 13 regular season matches out of a possible 17 last year. This year, he’s played in every game so far. Doty is comfortable at the setter position and likes the role of setting up his teammates.
“As a second year of being a full-time setter, it has been delayed since I probably have about 10,000 less reps than other people who have been setting for most of their career,” Doty said. “But I’m not that far behind in the sense of how to run an offence. Setting is a lot about messing with the other team and strategizing and all that stuff, so that part is there.”
Being the starting setter on the court for every game is a new challenge for Doty, and one that he doesn’t take for granted. The caveat of being in a strong program such as the one at Mac is that the internal competition for playing time is always fierce among the Marauders.
“This year’s role is different,” Doty said. “It is more stress on my everyday practice schedule. I’m still competing with the other guys for a spot. It is never a guarantee to get a starting position, so I have to bring my A game every day.”
Doty has to be vocal on the court when strategizing and running the offence, but he says he is quieter when he is preparing for games or working out.
“Off the court I’m not as vocal,” said Doty. “As a personality trait, I kind of do my own thing and once I get in the zone, I just try to do my work.”
Outside the realm of volleyball, family and sports are important to Doty as well. He likes to hang out with friends and generally take a stress-free approach to life.
Though the team is playing well, Doty insists that he and the team are taking it one game at a time, and not looking too far ahead of the challenge directly in front of them.
“With our team, it is day by day, so we are not really focused on winning the OUAs,” Doty explained. “It’s always something we work towards but it is not something we say everyday. When that time comes, we’ll deal with it, but for now it is just about taking this weekend to get better as a player and a person. The rest will take care of itself.”
Doty’s solid play has earned him some recognition, as he was recently named one of the two McMaster Pita Pit Athletes of the Week. In just his second season in maroon, Doty is only going to get better as he looks to help continue the tradition of Marauders men’s volleyball excellence.