January 7th, 2011
Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex
Laurier Golden Hawks vs. McMaster Marauders
Both McMaster’s Men’s and Women’s teams are in striking position of the top teams in the OUA. While the Laurier Women’s team is on the lower half of the standings, their Men’s squad has been pushing hard recently to move up the standings. Their record of 6-4 would receive a huge boost if they could knock of the visiting Marauder’s squad. Coming off such a long layoff, any predictions of the result became difficult.
The Laurier Golden Hawks started out with a handicap, as starting setter Erik Kroman was out due to sickness. 6 Nolan Molyneux took his place. The game started out a little uncoordinated. Where the women can get into a rhythm after a long layoff, men tend to go for the kill extra hard. The result is a lot of small mistakes and shorter rallies. Since both teams were reeling from the same symptoms, the set remained tight for the entire duration of the first set. The teams remained equal at 22-22, and even 23-23. At that point, the Golden Hawks managed to give the home audience some hope by winning a point to reach the very first set point of the new year. A McMaster missed kill went right into the net, giving Laurier the first set victory. Laurier won 25-23.
In the second set, McMaster’s lineup looked slightly varied to the first. McMaster’s 3 Shayne Petrusma impressed me with a huge kill early in the first set, but now he found himself as a bench reserve. This could have something to do with their players getting a lot of playing time during a recent trip to the States to play against NCAA teams. Regardless, the second set began in the same vein as the first. There were too many small mistakes, and they ended up negating any real energy either team could manage. Laurier managed to stay slightly ahead after taking the lead at 16-15. By putting a lot of balls off the McMaster block and out, the Golden Hawks pushed their lead to two and kept the lead into the 20s.
Then came a bizarre call. Laurier hit an attack that seemingly caught a piece of the McMaster block. First the official called the touch. Then he asked his linesman over, who decided that there was not a touch. The official reverse the call, and gave McMaster the ball. Then the other linesman came forward and claimed she had seen a touch. The official reverse the call again, and returned to his original call of Laurier ball. It was odd to say the very least, and it stunted the energy of the game.
McMaster’s 12 Tyler Santoni came through with a fluid quick right after the odd reffing sequence. After that, Laurier’s serve receive fell apart. They completely shanked three services down the line and ended up giving McMaster a set point at 24-23. Laurier’s 2 Greg Houston gave them some life with a huge offside kill down the line to force extra points. It was short lived, however, as a McMaster tip point was followed by Houston flubbing the ball long out to end the set. McMaster evened the sets with a 26-24 win.
The third set was an anomaly that would set a tone for the rest of the match in a bizarre fashion. Laurier pulled out to an early 8-4 lead. Then things got out of hand. The lead extended to 12-4 before McMaster could manage another point. Any attempts the Marauders made to claw back were too minimal. The score reached 20-10, and both teams had visibly concluded that this set was over. A comedy of missed serves ended the set at 25-13 for Laurier.
Though Laurier won the third set so decisively, they also had ended the set with no energy whatsoever. McMaster came out hungry to redeem themselves, and found that opportunity easily against a flatfooted Golden Hawks squad. Though the game initially stayed tied (both at 5-5, 9-9, etc.), the set was on the brink of a collapse. At 12-12, something happened. Mistakes were already dictating the set, but I cannot say exactly what happened at that one moment. The short of it is McMaster put in 10 consecutive points. The score read 22-12, and nobody knew exactly how to react to the whole sequence. Laurier managed to stop the open wound, but the set was clearly done. McMaster finished it at 25-14, and they managed to finish a blowout set with momentum, unlike the Laurier team after the third set.
The fifth set was again dictated by mistakes early on. The replacement Laurier setter missed two consecutive sets to give McMaster the 8-5 advantage at the turn. Laurier’s Houston managed to tool two consecutive points to bring Laurier back into the deciding fifth set at 8-7. From there, Laurier gave a side out, followed by shanking their serve receive. The Marauders won a point on a roll shot, followed by a hit through the block for a 12-7 lead late in the set. The Laurier coach gave some audible profanities for the crowd, followed by a timeout. The look on his face suggested that this set was over. Laurier’s 11 Cameron Wheelan came out of the timeout fired up, and slammed a huge kill. Unfortunately, that was Laurier’s last point of the set. A McMaster block, followed by another Laurier unforced error ended the set at 15-8 for the Marauders.
After initially falling behind 2-1 in sets, McMaster came back to win in five sets.
McMaster moves to 9-2 and stays in Waterloo to meet the Waterloo squad Saturday night.
Laurier falls to 6-5 and will remain at home to host Guelph on Saturday.