HAMILTON, Ont. - History beckoned for the Marauders Saturday, and they wasted little time in answering its call.
McMaster pieced together a strong all-court performance in front of a packed Burridge Gym crowd to defeat the Queen’s Gaels in straight sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-21) and secure the longest championship dynasty in the annals of OUA men’s volleyball.
The Marauders have now claimed six consecutive conference titles, dating back to the 2012-13 season, a feat unmatched in the 53-year history of the Forsyth Trophy.
Named OUA West Player of the Year a week earlier, outside hitter Andrew Richards delivered a championship effort worthy of the honour, leading the Marauders and the match with 15 kills and 21 points in the sweep.
Richards hit .333 for the night, committing just four errors on 31 attempts while adding four aces and two blocks. He was named as McMaster’s Player of the Match as a deserving result.
His fellow members of the Marauders veteran outside hitting trio, Matt Passalent and Brandon Koppers also eclipsed double digits in points, with Passalent notching 11 kills, three aces and a half block for 14.5 points while Koppers added eight kills and three and a half blocks for 11.5 points.
Setter David Doty was on form throughout, racking up 34 assists while chipping in two aces and two and a half blocks.
Aggressive as usual from the service line, the Marauders were effective with that tool Saturday, with 10 aces versus 12 errors in the win.
Struggling throughout the Marauders onslaught, the Gaels hit just .045 as a group, committing 20 errors versus 24 kills on 88 attempts.
Their high-usage weapon on the outside, Markus Trence had a team high 11 kills and 12.5 points and was named as Queen’s Player of the Match, but was held to .176 hitting.
Both teams remain in competition for another week, with berths to the U SPORTS Championship tournament, which McMaster hosts at Burridge Gym between March 16 and 18.
For more tournament information, including tickets, visit usports.ca/mvbchamps.
Momentum swung wildly in the early stages Saturday, as McMaster reeled off six straight points to send Queen’s to a timeout at 6-1 in the first set, before watching that lead evaporate. A double block of Andrew Richards brought Queen’s level at 11, and brought up a timeout from the hosts, as the Gaels began to find their feet.
That trend proved short-lived, however, as McMaster emerged from the reset with renewed purpose, and won five of the next seven points to carry a 16-13 lead into the technical timeout after three consecutive blocks.
With their timing in place on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, and the loud support of a capacity Burridge Gym crowd at their backs, the Marauders raced to the finish line in set one. David Doty brought up a plethora of set points with an ace for 24-16, and Passaslent made good on the second of those by putting a no-nonsense cross-court shot to the floor.
Keeping their focus and firm control of momentum, the Marauders sped into an early lead and were rarely threatened in a one-sided second set.
Reacting well with his team out of system, Koppers waited out a high ball and fired it down to give his team a 16-10 lead at the technical timeout, and McMaster did not slow from there. It was over in short order, with Markus Trence’s serve finding the tape to seal the set for the Marauders by a 10-point margin.
The Gaels were unwilling to go quietly Saturday, and snatched a lead and a measure of momentum midway through the third set. Following a bail-out back set, middle Jack Peckham dispatched the quick to give Queen’s a three-point lead at 14-11, and two points later, the teams hit the technical timeout after Trence pounded a kill at Passalent.
But as they had in the first set, the Marauders regrouped from a break and re-engaged out of the technical, vaulting ahead on the strength of a six-point run that took them to 22-17.
A few points later, an attack error from Trence brought up a slew of match points, and after burning three, the Marauders made good on the fourth, as Koppers killed to seal McMaster’s historic night.
Source: McMaster Marauders