By: Griffin Marsh

The Quigley Cup Playoffs, the Ontario University Athletics’ women’s volleyball championship tournament, came to a close. Unfortunately, it ended with the Marauder women being awarded silver.

McMaster lost the final on March 10 to the Ryerson Rams in four sets. McMaster took the first thrilling set 29-27, but lost the next three in a dominant Rams performance.

For Ryerson, this capped off a spectacular season as they finished with a perfect record through the regular season and playoffs.

For McMaster, momentum was not in their favour and an otherwise strong season ended in frustration.

During the Quigley Cup, McMaster got production from all across their lineup including notable performances from Rachel Woock and Aleks Arsovic. They each contributed 11 and 15 kills, respectively.

McMaster’s stellar middle pairing of Hailey Kranics and Maicee Sorenson were somewhat muted from their usual expectations, but still managed to combine for 16 points.

One half of the team’s solid middle, Sorenson, was recognized as the OUA West Division Player of the Year at the conclusion of the regular season, capping off an excellent campaign. Sorenson finished in the top 20 for OUA players for both kills and blocks, and was a key piece of the McMaster attack all season long.

McMaster is a perennial contender: champions last year, runners-up today and are patiently awaiting for more opportunities to come.

Ryerson had been and was always going to be a challenging opponent for the Marauders. The Rams were one of two teams to hand McMaster losses this season, and head coach Tim Louks always saw their potential throughout their season.

Coach Louks was also quick to tip his cap to the program Ryerson created prior to their Quigley Cup Championship, saying they were young and that he expected to see them in contention for seasons to come.

While McMaster finished the OUA playoffs with a loss, it should be noted that they survived a fierce five-set victory on Friday night against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

That was a game where Sorenson and Kranics showed off their all-star form, combining for 25 kills and 32.5 points. This was more in line with the sort of performance you would expect from them, as both have been workhorses for the Marauders’ style of play.

Against the Varsity Blues, consistency was king, as McMaster outlasted Toronto through pure offensive efficiency.

This is also what unfortunately gave Ryerson an advantage in the following round. The consistency left the Marauders’ rotation and Ryerson took advantage when they saw the opportunity.

Ryerson executed a thorough game plan, managing to limit the big names for McMaster. This notably included Jill Eisenhauer, who has been a consistent and versatile force for the Marauder offence all year.

Eisenhauer had seven kills and a .312 efficiency in the Toronto game, putting forth a dominant performance. Against Ryerson however, she was held to three kills with a -.077 efficiency. Ryerson clearly watched the tape and knew where to focus their energy.

While there was contribution throughout the lineup against the Rams, a reality that coach Louks took pride in throughout the season, the stifling of Eisenhauer, Sorenson and Kranics presented an uphill battle that McMaster could not ultimately overcome.

Even with a frustrating end to the season, the future looks bright for the Marauders. McMaster is blessed with a balance of experience and depth throughout their roster. While they will lose a few key pieces due to graduation, these gaps are waiting to be filled by a young lineup.

Carly Health, Joanna Jedrzejewska, Caitlin Genovy and the previously mentioned Sorenson will be heading onto bright futures beyond the friendly confines of the McMaster campus. While the graduating players will be sorely missed, when asked about these keys aspects of the roster earlier in the season, coach Louks was hard pressed to say the team’s success came from any one piece.

He emphasized that volleyball is a team sport, and insisted that every element of their structure was coming together to give them success. This is why the Marauders are in good hands and have a good foundation they can continue to build on.

So we pause to say thank you to long-time members of this Marauder roster, but also look to the future, excited for the prospects that are awaiting their shot.

McMaster is a perennial contender: champions last year, runners-up today and are patiently awaiting for more opportunities to come.

This program is practiced, it’s focused and it’s rich with talent. While one season may come to an end and disappointment may sour our mood, fear not, because McMaster will be back and a whole lot of talent is just getting started.

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