Playing one of the most comprehensive matches of their season to date, the Marauders saw off the Nipissing Lakers without much ado Saturday.
McMaster dispatched Nipissing 25-15, 25-18, 25-18 to improve to 9-6 in OUA play and open the final home weekend of its season in fine style.
The win kept the Marauders fully in the thick of the OUA West division’s playoff logjam, which sees four teams within two wins of each other between the second and fifth spot. Currently, McMaster’s record holds them a game clear of the Guelph Gryphons for the fourth and final playoff spot in the division.
A group of three hitters had nine kills apiece for Mac in the win, including right side Jessie Nairn and left sides Maddie Lethbridge and Kailan Robinson. Adding four aces, four solo blocks and a block assist to her tally, Nairn posted a match high of 17.5 with a balanced three-set effort.
It was Lethbridge, however, who was McMaster’s most efficient attacker, killing nine of 20 hitting attempts versus just one error (.400).
Senior Zoe Mackintosh led the match with 16 digs, while Katie Zutatautas had 24 assists before yielding to Rebecca Maxwell in the third set.
Opening the afternoon at the service line, Lethbridge helped McMaster take command early by winning the first five points of the match, establishing a first set lead that the home side would not squander for the remainder.
The Marauders sped ahead by claiming seven of eight points surrounding the technical timeout, aided by a steady service run from middle Kamila Haase, and had an 18-9 advantage with which to work.
Despite a momentary fightback by the Lakers, who won the next five points to cut the lead to just four, the Marauders rode another run through the set’s end, claiming seven of the last eight points and winning the set when Brenna Peacock’s serve went unreturned for 25-15.
Another quick start saw the Marauders claim the first four points of the second set, and despite a fightback that brought the Lakers within a point, the hosts didn’t relinquish the lead before the technical timeout, with consecutive kills from Robinson and Lethbridge carrying Mac into the break at 16-12.
It was smooth sailing from there, and Mac won the final three points of the set with Robinson and Haase delivering kills to seal it at 25-18.
Unlike the first two sets, the third opened with side-out volleyball and both teams struggling to create any momentum. The visitors found the first opening to move ahead 12-9 after a pair of McMaster errors, but the Marauders countered immediately to win the next six points in succession with Nairn toeing the service line.
With their lead restored, the hosts managed to hold Nipissing off, and powered to the finish line by winning the last five points of the afternoon and closing the match with another Robinson kill for 25-18.
NEXT UP: The Marauders complete their regular season home schedule and celebrate their graduating seniors Sunday, when the York Lions visit the Burridge Gym for a 1:00 p.m. matinee. That match will be broadcast live on Cable 14 in Hamilton and webcast on OUA.tv.
Source: Fraser Caldwell