January 7th, 2011
Wilfrid Laurier Athletic Complex
Laurier Golden Hawks vs. McMaster Marauders
The OUA regular season started again after a brief Christmas break on Friday night. The Laurier Golden Hawks hosted one of the league’s best in McMaster. Though the two team records showed quite a disparity, the game was highly competitive and entertaining, forcing both squads and coaches to stay on their toes.
At first I expected McMaster to really take it to Laurier early. To my pleasant surprise, the scores were constantly tight throughout the first set. Often Laurier would take the lead, and they were the first team to break into the 20s. The game sat tied at 21-21, and the rallies were long and fierce. I know these are two teams coming off a long layout, right in the middle of cold season, but the ball stayed off the court. Unfortunately, something fell from beneath Laurier’s feet right at the end. McMaster went on a four-point run to end the first set on a high note. The final score was 25-21 for the Marauders.
Early in the second set, the Golden Hawks appeared to be a bit down on momentum. A couple of mistouches called on Laurier setter 11 Lauren Carter put them down 4-6. It was about that point that Laurier decided they were not a 1-6 team. They stormed back with 6 straight points to lead 10-6. McMaster were not about to sit down and let the underdog home team run all over them. They stayed in it, hung around a couple points behind, and managed to take a lead at 17-16 after slowly gnawing their way through the Laurier lead. McMaster was the first team to break into the 20s, and looked fairly solid in the lead. They managed a set point at 24-21, with the home team’s backs to the wall. Laurier stormed back with three straight points to tie the game and force extra points. The tying point had Laurier pulling out a tough dig off a ball rolling along the net, followed by tough defence until McMaster made a mistake and swung long on an attack. The momentum seemed on the Golden Hawks’ defiant side. Unfortunately, that would end the comeback. McMaster took away the final two points with hard attacks, and won the second set 26-24 to go ahead two.
The match now favoured McMaster distinctly. Though the Golden Hawks managed to look like a team right in the Marauders lead, now they were deep in the hole. Once again they decided to play like a different team than you’d expect. Laurier came out to the early lead at 5-2. Their momentum looked to build as Hawks’ 13 Megan Gilmore made a circus recovery after completely missing a quick attack, and the ball dropped on the McMaster side. Laurier extended their lead to five points at 14-9, and the rallies became increasingly long and competitive. McMaster brought the game tight again, down 17-16 after a 7-3 run.
At this point, the tables dramatically turned. McMaster took the lead for the first time in the set after two more points in a row. Laurier 12 Brittney Hopley (a great name for volleyball) got blocked by the Marauders double block to extend the lead. On the next play, McMaster 14 Larissa Puhach put down a devastating kill after a Laurier scramble made it look like their defence would give them a chance. After a Laurier error, and another McMaster block, the game looked to be spiraling out of control. From the point Laurier had the lead, McMaster went on a 9-2 run. That run is actually part of their previous one, in full extending to 12-3. Down the last stretch, one of Laurier’s few points came off a McMaster missed serve. McMaster wins the set 25-19 to win the match in straight sets.
To be honest, I don’t know exactly what happened. Laurier had the lead by a couple points during every single set, but they couldn’t push through at the end to take a set of their own. After the game, McMaster 6 Genevieve Dumas and Laurier 11 Lauren Carter were named the players of the game.
McMaster moves to 8-1. They will play Waterloo Saturday in Waterloo.
Laurier falls to 1-7, and will host Guelph on Saturday evening.