Nobody’s perfect, thanks to the Warriors

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Going into last Friday night, the McMaster Marauders had been near perfect this season coming in with an undefeated 14–0 record, but that did not intimidate the Warriors.


The Warriors have had a phenomenal season going 11–3 and tied for second with Western. Their three losses this year coming from all playoff bound teams — Ryerson, Western, and McMaster.


The last time these two teams battled it out on the court, the Warriors were able to push the Marauders to the brink, forcing them to five sets, but sadly were unable to take one more, losing 3–2. With a chip on their shoulders, the Warriors were determined to end McMaster’s perfect season.


Straight out of the gate both teams looked evenly matched, going toe-for-toe, but it was the Marauders who were able to pull ahead with a lead of 18–13. The Warriors with their never-say-die attitude clawed all the way back to eventually tie the set 23–23.


That is when the nerves kicked in. On four occasions when the Warriors won a point, they committed an error on their following serve attempts. Despite these errors, Waterloo was able to stay alive, but eventually lost 32–30 in a thrilling set.


In the second set both teams were again evenly matched, but it was Waterloo who was able to gain a five point lead on McMaster with a score of 17–12. Trying to regroup, the Marauders head coach Dave Preston called a timeout which led to McMaster cutting down the Waterloo lead to one.


With the score 23–22 for Waterloo, nerves started kicking in again as McMaster offside Stephen Marr missed his serve giving the Warriors a chance to win but Waterloo middle Danny Demyanenko committed an error on his serve. The Warriors did not let the missed serve faze them as they eventually took the set 29–27.


The third set was a completely different story as the Marauders dominated the Warriors. All set, Waterloo blockers had a difficult time reading who the Marauders’ sets were going to, which let McMaster hitters get clear kills. The Marauders took the set in convincing fashion with a score of 25–13.


McMaster’s momentum continued in the fourth set as they took an early 10–5 lead. Desperate to make a comeback, Waterloo head coach Chris Lawson looked to the bench, putting a pair of rookies — middle Jordan McConkey and setter Gibson Graham — in the game. McConkey had many crucial blocks while Graham was great setting up hitters as well as contributing four digs.


Down 20–16, Waterloo power Aleks Poldma would step up to the service line and surge a Warrior comeback as the Warriors were able to score eight straight points giving them a 24–20 lead. The Marauders were able to make it 24–22, but McMaster libero Seyar Karimi put his serve in the net giving Waterloo the fourth set.


Lawson put his starters back in and they were able to carry their momentum in the fifth and deciding set as they gained an early lead. They pushed the Marauders to the edge and led 14–7. On match point, McMaster offside Jori Mantha sent his serve into the net giving Waterloo the fifth set and victory over the Marauders.


In a game that had an unusual 41 service errors, Waterloo came out on top with a final score of 30–32, 29–27, 13–25, 25–22, 15–10.


“We certainly rode the rollercoaster during that game, ups and downs, lots of unforced errors,” said Lawson. “If you didn’t serve tough the other team was gonna feed you the ball, so that led to a lot of service errors on both sides.”


Leading the way for the Warriors was James Evans, who had an impressive 21 kills alongside seven digs, committing only six errors. Setter Scott Thompson had 46 assists but committed seven service errors.


In the losing effort, Jori Mantha led McMaster with 20 kills, while setter Austin Campion-Smith finished with 54 assists.
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