McMaster topples Long Beach State twice to sweep weekend series

Photo by McMaster Marauders
Photo by McMaster Marauders

Marauders Down 49ers in Four


HAMILTON, Ont. - Able to stay steps ahead of their American opponents through the first two sets, and bounce back from the loss of the third emphatically, the McMaster Marauders added another impressive NCAA scalp to their collection Friday, defeating the second-seeded Long Beach State 49ers 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 18-25, 25-20) at Burridge Gym.

The victory marked McMaster’s third victory over top-ranked NCAA competition this season, and extends the Marauders perfect record in international contests at Burridge Gym.

Senior outside hitter Andrew Richards paced the Hamilton side in the victory, putting 15 of his team-high total of 32 attempts to the floor for kills and finishing the match with a team-leading haul of 16.5 points.

Their blocking proved a difference maker for the Marauders in the win, as the hosts notched five solos and 10 assists, with middle Peter Khodkevych posting three and a half blocks of his own.

Kyle Ensing led LBSU with 13 kills and 18 points in a losing effort, but was held to just 13 per cent hitting (13-38 with eight errors).

The Marauders jumped out to an early advantage Friday, and rode it into the first set technical timeout, where they enjoyed a three-point lead after Richards fired a high ball off the block and deep for 16-13.

Unable to piece together a run that could truly turn the tables, Long Beach State never fully erased the deficit, and the Marauders took the set 25-20 when Nick Amado’s audacious cut shot landed wide of the mark.

Three consecutive 49ers points, and four of the first five, sent the Marauders to an early timeout to open the second set. But the hosts rebounded quickly, and once again held a three-point lead at the technical, this time coming on the heels of a solo stuff from Khodkevych.

The visitors kept things close as the teams barrelled toward the finish line, and Long Beach State pulled within a point when TJ DeFalco killed for 23-22. But the Marauders refused to blink as the pressure mounted, and sealed a two-set lead when Matt Passalent managed to squeeze a tight shot through a double block for 25-23.

Hopes of an uncomplicated end to proceedings were dashed in the third, as Long Beach State built an early lead and raced on from the technical timeout, taking the set 25-18 to force a fourth and treat the Burridge Gym crowd to bonus volleyball.

There, the home side steadied once again, and produced their most efficient offensive effort of the night en route to a .478 hitting rate as a group in set four.

A run of six points in eight, capped by a kill from middle Bennett Swan, vaulted the Marauders into an early lead in the fourth, which they would not relinquish. The advantage swelled to seven by the onset of the technical timeout, as consecutive kills from Richards and Brandon Koppers had Mac ahead 16-9, and despite a late surge from the visitors, the hosts were not to be caught.

Ultimately, it was an error that undid the 49ers, as Josh Tuniga’s final serve found the tape to conclude the fourth set and the match.

McMaster Edges Long Beach State in Five

HAMILTON, Ont. - Ensuring that fans got their money’s worth in the back half of their weekend doubleheader, the McMaster Marauders and Long Beach State 49ers took their match at Burridge Gym right down to the wire in set five, where the hosts ultimately edged it 15-13 to sweep the series in dramatic fashion.

Set scores were 25-23, 19-25, 25-23, 21-25 and 15-13 in favour of the U SPORTS ninth-ranked Marauders, who notched their fourth consecutive win over NCAA opposition this season with the victory over the second-seeded 49ers.

Long Beach State put up a consistent fight in defeat, and out-earned McMaster in both kills and points while posting a .358 hitting average versus Mac’s .250. But they were undone by their sloppy play from the service line, where the 49ers were a -24 on the night (two aces versus 26 service errors).

Serving as McMaster’s leading scorer on the night, with 17 kills and 19 points, outside hitter Andrew Richards sealed the match emphatically by wiping a heavy shot from the left off the Long Beach State block and long on match point.

Richards hit .294 on the night, and posted two aces and a team high 10 digs in an all-action performance, while teammate Matt Passalent matched him with 17 kills on 36 attempts and was an efficient 36 per cent in attack.

The Marauders raced out of the gates in set one, sending the 49ers to an early timeout when they won seven of the first eight points of the match. That trend would slow, but McMaster still enjoyed a four-point lead at the technical timeout after Passalent dealt brutally with a high ball on the right for 16-12.

With a five-point lead and a magic number of just two at 23-18, McMaster appeared to have things wrapped up nicely in the first, before Long Beach State reeled off four consecutive points and sent the hosts to a timeout after a Brandon Koppers error for 23-22.

Mac recovered sufficiently after the break to see out the set, and took it after one of Long Beach State’s 26 service errors found the tape on set point.

There was little to choose between the teams early in the second set, until the 49ers pieced together a 6-2 run to power into the technical timeout after a kill from American international TJ DeFalco.

McMaster’s best look at a comeback came at 20-17, before Long Beach State embarked on another run, this one capped by a Nick Amado kill, to wrap up the set and level the match overall.

Returning to side-out volleyball in the third, neither team was able to truly impose themselves on the set, and when Kyle Ensing dusted off the overpass, the 49ers took a slender 16-14 lead into the technical timeout. McMaster clawed that deficit back quickly and proved the more opportunistic team at set’s end, winning it by the minimum when Richards blasted a cut shot to the floor through the seam.

The side-out trend continued in the fourth, where it was the Marauders who took a slim lead into the technical timeout after an Ethan Siegfried service error for 16-15. Long Beach State found a new gear, and real separation, after the break, reeling off a 7-3 run from 18-all to snatch the set and level the match yet again.

It was anyone’s guess as to who would take the decider as side-out volleyball ruled once more to open the fifth. But McMaster’s opportunity came on the eve of the changeover, where the Marauders pieced together a 5-1 run capped by a Richards ace for 11-7.

Long Beach State stormed back to within striking distance, but the hosts were not to be denied, and after a Peter Khodkevych kill brought up match points at 14-12, Richards arrived to tool the final block.