Approximately 400 fans roared into the PAC to watch the Waterloo Warriors men’s volleyball team take on the McMaster Marauders Jan. 31. Going into this game, the Warriors were ranked third in the OUA and riding a five-game winning streak.</p>
Before the game started, the team honoured graduating players Brandon Baker, Zach Doherty, and Jordan Dyck for their great contributions and dedication to the Waterloo Warriors men’s volleyball team.
They had a tough challenge ahead of them as they faced a McMaster team ranked first in the OUA. Earlier this season, the Warriors faced the Marauders in Hamilton, where they were handed a convincing defeat as they lost in three straight sets. To pile onto that, starting outside Zachary Doherty missed Saturday’s game due to a pulled abdominal muscle, forcing the team to start with five second-year players.
Throughout the match, the team’s nerves definitely showed, as UW’s blockers had a hard time reading McMaster’s attackers. In the first set, McMaster led most of the way, reaching a six-point lead with a score of 13-19. The Warriors clawed their way back, tying the game at 22 apiece, but fell short, losing the set 22-25.
The second set saw McMaster jump to a quick four-point lead with a score of 4-8. The Warriors were never able to gain enough momentum to cut down that lead and eventually lost the set 21-25.
The Warriors were able to take the third set 25-21, but their momentum quickly ended as they lost the fourth set decisively, 16-25. The Warriors’ win streak ended at five games, the final scores 22-25, 21-25, 25-21, and 16-25.
Leading the way for the Warriors was Aaron Wiersma who had 11 kills, four blocks, and 10 digs. Middle Braden Cok was also very effective with 10 kills, two aces, two blocks, and 11 digs. Setter Gibson Graham was his usual self, chipping in 37 assists.
This loss means the Warriors’ seeding in the OUA tournament can be greatly swayed by how they and their opponents do this weekend. They are currently second in the standings, with 13 wins and one game remaining in their schedule.
Coach Chris Lawson’s goal is to finish the regular season with at least the third seed.
“Second and third, there’s no difference at all. It’s a slightly different quarter-final; there’s not a lot of difference between the five, six, and seven seeded teams,” said Lawson.
Below the Warriors in the standings are the Ryerson Rams with 13 wins, but they have two games remaining on their schedule. In fourth and fifth place are the York Lions and Queen’s Gaels respectively, who both have 11 wins each with two games remaining in their schedules.
If the Warriors win their last game against Ryerson then they will lock up at least the third seed. But, if they lose and York or Queen’s wins both games, then the Warriors could potentially fall to the fourth or fifth seed which would lead to a semifinal matchup in the OUA tournament against McMaster, if they were to advance that far.
That is far from ideal for Coach Lawson: “The key is not dropping to fourth so you don’t have to face Mac in the semifinal, ‘cause they already locked up first place. If you can get into the final against Mac, you’re automatically going to nationals.”
The Warriors will play their final game of the season versus Ryerson Feb. 8 in Toronto. The team expects Doherty to sit out for this matchup but expect him to be ready come playoff time.