Men’s volleyball started off the second half of their season with their toughest opponent yet, the number one CIS ranked McMaster Marauders, who came into the game with an 11-0 record.
At first, the Gaels put McMaster in unfamiliar waters, handing McMaster their third set loss of the season. But eventually they were overmatched by a dominant McMaster team and fell in four sets (25-27, 25-21, 25-16, 28-26).
McMaster played without two of their regular starters, Alex Elliott and Danny Demyanenko, but the Gaels weren’t able to capitalize off their absence.
“It was a missed opportunity,” said Marko Dakic, who had a strong game and finished with 12 kills. “Mac was in a weak position due to injuries and we didn’t take advantage of that. It highlighted that we were still rusty from the winter break.”
Despite trailing 14-11 before their first timeout, the Gaels fought back and took the first set 27-25, with an exceptional .478 attacking percentage. The second set was also close with Mac taking a slim 16-14 lead into the first technical timeout. However this time the Gaels couldn’t pull off the comeback and they fell 25-21 after a block on Marko Dakic’s attack.
In the third set the Marauders came out with a renewed energy and took an early, commanding lead over the Gaels as they entered the technical timeout up 16-10. McMaster continued their strong play for the rest of the set and bested Queen’s 25-14, taking the lead in the match.
Although Queen’s opened the fourth set with a 5-0 lead, McMaster clawed back and were only trailing 16-15 at the technical timeout. The Marauders came out of the timeout strong and jumped ahead 22-18. McMaster finished the match with a 28-26 win, in spite of the Gaels pushing the set .
The Gaels put forward a strong effort, but the dominant third set by the Marauders was a deal breaker.
“Fatigue was a factor. We didn’t play at a consistent pace throughout the match,” Dakic said.
Queen’s and McMaster appear to be on a collision course for the OUA championships, a challenge that Dakic and the Gaels relish.
“We’ll be more ready for them next time. Just playing against them creates learning opportunities for us,” Dakic said.
The Gaels play host to York and Nipissing this Friday and Saturday, respectively.
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