Another year, another OUA semifinals for men’s volleyball head coach Chris Lawson and his squad. The team is in familiar territory as this is the fifth year in a row that they have made the semifinals, and with every passing year, the expectations get higher. </p>
This year, the team finished in fifth place during the regular season with an overall record of 12-9 and closed out the season winning eight of their last nine games.
Their first stop in the OUA playoffs was in Toronto as the team travelled there Feb. 27 to face off against the fourth place University of Toronto Blues in a quarter-final bout. The two teams met twice during the regular season with Toronto sweeping the first game, three sets to zero, and Waterloo sweeping the second game.
For the tiebreaker, it was Waterloo who was able to come up on top with a final score of 25-23, 25-20, 22-25, 25-23, in a tightly contested 3-1 victory.
Leading the way offensively for Waterloo were Braden Cok and Aidan Simone with 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Simone also had an absurd six aces, most of them coming in the first set where he had seven points and four aces from the service line. Setter Gibson Graham was his usual brilliant self with 54 assists.
Defensively, Jordan McConkey and Cok each had three blocks while libero Erich Woolley was outstanding contributing 15 digs and phenomenal passes.
Their next stop will be in Hamilton to play against the second best team in Canada, the McMaster Marauders, who finished the regular season with a record of 18-2 and atop the OUA standings.
McMaster won both regular season matchups. The first match was a very close battle that saw Waterloo battle back from a two-set deficit and force the match into a fifth set. Unfortunately, McMaster regained their composure and closed the door in the final set. The second match was a blowout for McMaster as they won three consecutive sets in convincing fashion.
This year’s squad will look to replicate last year’s success where the team was able to make it to the OUA finals, but lost to McMaster. The second place finish in the OUA got them a ticket to the CIS tournament, where the top teams of every division in Canada faceoff against each other. Once more, McMaster stands in their way on the pathway to more success.
Beating McMaster is a hefty task but it is more than doable for this team. McMaster’s two losses this season came from U of T and York, both teams that the Warriors have beaten this season.
The semi-final game starts at 8 p.m. March 3 in Hamilton.