By Fraser Caldwell
Finding themselves a step behind from the opening whistle Friday, the Marauders were never able to fully find their rhythm in Toronto.
McMaster dropped three closely-played sets at York (22-25, 19-25, 21-25) to see its three-match winning streak snapped, and moved to 3-3 on the season with the loss.
With both teams struggling to find offence, the Marauders held the Lions to just 27 kills versus 26 errors, but found themselves with a mirror image of that tally themselves en route to the loss.
Left side Maddie Lethbridge was Mac’s most effective hitter on the night with eight kills, and added a solo block and four block assists for a team high 11 points.
Facing a hefty deficit at the technical timeout in the first set, where they trailed by eight after a Lions free ball clipped the tape and fell for a kill, the Marauders slowly worked their way back to contention in the opener.
A pair of aces and a badly passed third effort with Rebecca Maxwell prowling the service line had the Marauders within two points at 19-21, and they made up the difference just four points later when Lethbridge’s unconventional standing float serve caused chaos in the Lions reception pattern.
But Lethbridge’s next serve found the tape, and after a mistimed McMaster block deflected a York shot to the floor to bring up a pair of set points, the Lions took the first of those by inducing a sloppy Marauders reception for 25-22.
There was little to separate the teams early in the second set, before the home side found three consecutive points to carry a 16-13 lead into the technical timeout when the Marauders were called on a double contact.
Hanging by a thread in the late stages, McMaster was victimized by an over-eager moment at the net to draw another call from the officials and fall behind 18-23, and the set drew to a close just three points later, when a York kill through the middle sealed it for the hosts at 25-19.
Encouragement arrived for the Marauders early in the third, as some well-chosen, off-speed shots saw the visitors climb into a 5-2 lead. But that advantage was short-lived, as the Lions erased it with three consecutive points and powered ahead from there.
Leading by five at the technical timeout after denying Kamila Haase on the attempted slide play, the Lions looked well on their way to the set victory before Maxwell took to the service line for another star turn.
Mac ripped off six consecutive points with their setter at the line to level the set at 18 apiece, but York found the cutting edge as the set barrelled toward its end.
Tied once again at 20, the Lions won four consecutive points to grab the initiative and four set points, and needed just two of those to end the night on a block.
NEXT UP: McMaster will look to bounce back with a return to home court Saturday, when the Marauders welcome the Toronto Varsity Blues to Hamilton for a 6:00 p.m. match. Catch the action live and on demand on OUA.tv.