The Marauder women’s volleyball team slid into second place in the OUA West by sweeping the first two games of the 2014 conference season.
McMaster took on the Western Mustangs at Burridge Gym on Jan. 10 and despite a slow start to the match, the Marauders were able to come out on top in all three sets, beating Western 3-0.
Taylor Brisebois was a key factor in the win over the Mustangs, completing 10 kills and a kill percentage of 44 percent, along with new national women’s beach volleyball team member Sophie Bukovec who had 11 kills and a kill percentage of 28 percent.
Although the game against Western was the Marauder’s first 2014 conference game, the Marauders had just returned from the annual Innisbrook Invitational which took place in Florida.
McMaster went into the finals undefeated where they suffered a heartbreaking loss to the Ottawa Gee-Gees, the number one team in the OUA East and sixth overall in Canada.
“We had some really great performances and that got the confidence level up. In terms of jump starting the second half, we tactically worked out a few things,” said Head Coach Tim Louks.
The game started off slow as the Marauders had a weak offensive start to the match, ending the first set with a kill percentage of 13.9. The Mustangs initially led in the opening set, but the Marauders started to work together and pass accurately, helping setter Kayla Ng hit her stride and place the ball extremely well, leading the Marauders to win the set 25-18.
“I don’t think there was a point where I was ever too concerned. Even though it was a little bit slower, I never felt that there was never a need for me to call a time out,” said Coach Louks.
The Marauders were able to pull ahead in the first set, however, the second set saw a similarly slow start for the Marauders who fell behind early, but better offense would give Mac a 16-13 lead at the technical timeout.
The Marauders then continued to outscore the Mustangs who were only able to score six points before McMaster would take the set 25-19.
The third set saw another sluggish start for the Marauders but soon the offense picked up speed, leaving the Mustangs unable to defend despite an attempt at a comeback, letting the Marauders take the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.
“You have to make sure you get the ball in bounds and you have to make sure you serve the ball well and I think we cleaned up that as we went along and I don’t think that Western had an answer to that,” said Louks.
The Marauders didn’t have much time to rest as they took on the Lancers on Jan. 12 in a game they knew they had to win to keep their second place spot in the OUA West conference.
The sluggish play that Marauders saw in Friday’s game continued in the start of the set, allowing the Lancers to take the early lead as they immediately jumped to 10-5.
Knowing that this game was crucial, McMaster pushed to outscore Windsor but still trailed by four at the technical timeout. Following the time out, McMaster started to serve inbound and attack with great accuracy, allowing them to outplay Windsor and take the first set 25-23.
“We wanted to come out and run a faster paced momentum attack. In order to do that we had to receive the ball at good consistency at a really high level and I think we did that well. I don’t think [Windsor] knew where we were at and I think that we wore them down. They had to defend so much, so often and we played good defence,” said Louks.
McMaster entered the second set with a momentum that continued on in the set. Excellent serving from Maicee Sorenson, who soon after left the game due to injury, allowed McMaster to take the lead at the technical timeout.
The loss of a key player seemed to distract the Marauders however, and Windsor used this distraction to their advantage, eventually pulling ahead and taking the set 25-22, making the match tied at 1-1.
The third set was a complete opposite of the second as Windsor had the lead at the technical timeout, but after the return of Sorenson to the floor, the team found the cohesion that was missing in the second set and was able to outscore Windsor 25-22.
Knowing that this game was a must win if the Marauders were to keep their second place win, McMaster played with a fervency that showcased their technical timeouts as both setters were utilized and the Marauders were placing the ball strategically, great service from Sorenson and Brisebois helped the Marauders to pull ahead ending the set 25-16 and taking the match 3-1.
The Marauders took Windsor’s spot in the conference but they can’t relax yet.
“Crystal ball, we push and shove the rest of the year but Windsor is a team we may see in the playoffs,” said Coach Louks.
The Marauders must utilize their weekend off to get ready for their remaining matches.
The last six matches are crucial as every team in the OUA West conference is in close standings.
The Marauders will travel to Waterloo on Jan. 24 to take on the Warriors and then will play the number one team in the West, the Guelph Gryphons at Burridge Gym on Jan. 26.