On Sunday evening, the Mustangs men’s volleyball team came out swinging, but it wasn’t enough to stop the McMaster Marauders from securing their seventh straight win.
Although Western’s intensity and solid blocking were enough to win the first set 25-22, the Marauders quickly regrouped and won the next three 29-27, 25-21 and 25-21.
The Marauders currently sit atop the Ontario University Athletics rankings with a 7-0 record and are also ranked sixth in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport standings.
Mustangs’ right side Josh Chisholm said, while his squad started the game aggressively, it lost its momentum as the match progressed.
“[Coming into the match], I felt there was a lot of intensity,” Chisholm said. “We had nothing to lose. [The Marauders] are a top-ranked team, so we just came out firing. That’s really all that mattered.
“Everybody stepped it up, but kind of let that intensity slide later in the game.”
In the first set, Western was successful at shutting down Mac star Peter Hrkal, who is among the top 10 in points-per-game in the OUA.
Mustangs’ outside hitter Eric Simon said eliminating threats on the opposing team is always a priority, but it isn’t enough to secure a win.
“It’s always big if you can take out a team’s best player,” Simon said. “We tried to pick on him by [consistently] serving to him.
“It seemed to have worked pretty well, but because of McMaster’s depth they had numerous other players that stepped up for them this game.”
In particular, Marauder Josh Lichty stepped in at left side after Hrkal was taken out of the game. Lichty had eight kills in the match and also led his team in digs.
McMaster head coach Dave Preston said the player changes after the first set helped his team come from behind.
“After the first set, we switched our left side guy,” Preston said. “We stabilized our passing [and] switched our setters. Ryan Hudson came in and ran a lot more middle transitions. Those are two of the adjustments we focused on.”
Chisholm stressed the importance of staying positive even when trailing.
“We know they’re a good team and I think we both played well defensively,” Chisholm said. “You have to stay patient, knowing eventually they are going to make an error and we will capitalize on that.”
For his part, Preston said the match was among the best he’d ever seen.
“There were 12 outstanding athletes on the floor,” he said. “Western is a phenomenal team. I think they are one of the best in the country. It was lucky to get out of here with a win because [Alumni Hall] is a tough gym to win in. That’s just good volleyball.”