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Over reading week teams like Toronto and York did their fair share of talking after handing McMaster their first two losses of the season. McMaster played more of their younger players for the final three matches of the season and won one — their season finale at Nipissing.
Younger players like Calvin Lee, Connor Santoni, Jeff Driediger, Peter Khodkevych, Craig Ireland, Matt Passalent and Ebbasa Dugassa carried the bulk of playing time to round out the season. Santoni had some of his best scoring performances of his young Mac career with 14 points against York and 23 against Nipissing. Second-year setter Calvin Lee had 50, 42 and 43 assists doing his best to spread out the Marauders offensive attack.
“I thought the final three games were great opportunities for some kids to get some more experience. We improved the depth of our roster a lot,” said Head Coach Dave Preston. “We got some guys healthier. That’s always a good thing at this stage in the season.”
The Marauders finished the regular season 18-2, with 9-1 records on the road and at home. In addition, McMaster clinched a spot in the OUA Final Four and will host it for the second consecutive season.
“The fact that we were able to rest some guys gave us a luxury that many other teams can’t afford. Not many teams can afford to create depth near the end of the season,” said Preston. “I really don’t care what other teams’ agendas are. I know what our agenda is and I know that we were able to stick to it.”
For those of you who haven’t heard, our Men’s Volleyball team did not finish the regular season unbeaten. Some put more value on that than others, but Coach Preston and the rest of his squad know the real money is still waiting on the table.
“We set three goals at the beginning of the year. It was to secure as much home court advantage throughout the playoffs as possible. We already did that,” said Preston. “The second one was to challenge for an OUA championship and the third one was to challenge for a CIS championship. Those two things are still on the table.”
Some of the team’s best qualities have reached their heights this season. The Marauders have a deep lineup and they can maintain their system and pace of play regardless of whom they put on the floor.
“Not many teams can afford to create depth near the end of the season.”
They’ve been waiting too long for them and McMaster has grown hungry.
No. 2 McMaster will play in an OUA seminfinal on March 4 at 8 p.m., and a national quarterfinal on March 10.
Photo Credit: Jon White/ Photo Editor