The McMaster women’s volleyball team clinched their fourth and fifth straight wins over the past weekend.
Despite a rocky start to the 2013-2014 season, the Marauders are now within four points of the top spot in the OUA West conference and show no signs of slowing down.
McMaster traveled to Waterloo to take on the Warriors Jan. 24 in a gruelling match that ended 3-2, for the Marauders.
“It’s always a little tough when you’re away but we’re going to play our best,” said Coach Louks in anticipation of the match.
The Marauders started the match off strong with a kill percentage of 31 in the first set.
The Marauders clearly outplayed the Warriors, who had a kill percentage of only 11. McMaster took the first set 25-16 and was hoping that it would set the tone for the rest of the match. However, McMaster played a very poor second set, having a negative kill percentage which led to the Warriors taking the second set 25-15 and tying the match at one apiece.
The third set saw a battle between the Warriors and the Marauders but the Marauders fell just two points shy, giving the Warriors a 2-1 advantage.
The Marauders played the fourth set with a gusto needed if they were going to win this game.
The Marauders played excellent defence, ending the set with a kill percentage of 34, while the Warriors evened out at zero percent.
The Marauders took the set 25-19, evening out the match and bringing it to a fifth set to 15.
The Marauders took the lead in the short, final set, wanting to keep their winning streak going and ensure them the best possible chance for playoffs.
The offense was consistent all game, and the match winning kill was delivered by Joanna Jedrzejewska to end the set 15-10 and the match 3-2.
The Marauders were able to work together as one unit in order to take this win over Waterloo.
However, at the start of the season, the Marauders lacked a cohesion that was evident in their games and resulted in more losses than wins.
“Our team is very young, which makes for a great future but for a lot of these girls, it’s their first time playing at university level,” said Louks.
As the season progressed, the Marauders learned how to play as a collective unit and used each player’s strengths to put points on the board and win matches.
“The biggest difference from the start of the season to now would probably be getting to know and playing with new people. As the season has gone by we have been able to gel and play as one team,” said Maicee Sorenson, this week’s Pita Pit Athlete of the Week.
The teamwork spoke for itself during the Waterloo game as three players, Sophie Bukovec, Mira Krunic, and Sorenson, broke double digits.
“Our trip to Florida really helped us come together. We learned a lot about one another. We learned to trust ourselves and each other on and off the court which brought back our confidence that we had during preseason,” said Krunic.
The Marauders played against Guelph at home Jan. 26 and they were aware that they had to beat Guelph if they wanted the best chance at ending the regular season in the top spot.
The Marauders had played Guelph earlier in the season and had lost 1-3, but were determined to play together this time.
“[We’re] wanting to win for each other not just for ourselves,” said Bukovec, who was a key player in the Guelph game.
If the Marauders were worried, they did not show it.
“Our mentality going into each game is to be better than the last game. We know that we can’t predetermine outcome, but we can focus on the things we can control, such as things we work on in practice, in order to make us better,” said Krunic.
The Marauders took the lead in the first set, but a timeout called by Guelph at 19-15 Marauders threatened their focus as the Gryphons tied the set 23-23.
The Marauders fought hard for their next two points, able to take the first set of the match and set the tone for the rest of the game.
“I find that we are getting into an offensive rhythm that has translated into our defence,” said Bukovec.
This rhythm continued into the second set, which was a battle the entire game.
The Gryphons had a slight lead at the technical time out, but McMaster fought hard, getting a slight lead before the set was tied 24-24 and forced to go into extra points.
Despite best attempts to have an edge over Guelph, the Marauders lost the set 26-28.
The Marauders entered the third set with an early lead and maintained this lead the entire set, outplaying Guelph and winning the set 25-19.
Wanting to end the game in four, the Marauders fought back against Guelph’s early lead of 10-7.
Playing smart offensively and defensively, the Marauders led at the technical timeout and continued this momentum, despite Guelph getting within one point at 23-22.
A timeout called by McMaster provided the pep talk needed to score the last two points and take the match 3-1.
The Marauders are in good standings, but with four games left, it is critical that they keep up their winning streak.
“To keep the streak going we just need to have confidence in our ability as a team to perform at its best at all times. Working through adversity should become easier as we continue to develop as a team,” said Bukovec.
“At this point in the season we focus on reciprocating what we have learned in order to ensure our success,” said Sorenson.
The Marauders take on Royal Military College Friday Jan. 31 and Queen’s on Feb. 1.