HAMILTON, Ont. (from McMaster Marauders) — McMaster’s mission to find top gear in 2018 reached a promising new height Friday, as the Marauders tore through the Guelph Gryphons at Burridge Gym.
Notching their ninth win and seventh sweep of the season, Mac built a 25-20, 25-18, 25-15 victory with their system purring and producing a team-wide hitting average of .434.
Having risen three spots in the latest U Sports national poll to a high of seventh days earlier, McMaster improved to 9-1 in OUA play and continued to sit atop the OUA West division standings with the win.
The hitting trio of Andrew Richards, Matt Passalent and Brandon Koppers carried the offensive load to brutal effect Friday.
Richards led all scorers with a total of 15.5 points, thumping down 11 of 16 attempts from the left side with just one error (.626) while adding three aces, one solo block and one block assist. His effort saw the fourth-year senior rise to third in the OUA with a season-long hitting average of .326.
Not to be outdone, Passalent matched Richards with 11 kills, his coming on 21 attempts and versus two errors (.429), and added an ace and a solo block for 13 points before largely sitting out the third set.
Enjoying a rare night of comparatively-low usage, Koppers converted eight of just 13 hitting attempts versus a single error (.538).
McMaster signalled their intent early on Friday, jumping out to a commanding 11-5 lead in the first set after a pair of kills from Richards and rookie middle Bennett Swan.
Slowly working their way back within striking distance, the Gryphons found themselves stuck just five points after service and attacking errors from the Marauders helped them to 17-12. They threatened further as McMaster approached the finish line, drawing within three and inducing a timeout at 22-19, but that was as close as Guelph would come in the first.
After a Passalent kill brought up four set points, Richards and the Marauders proved to require only one, as the outside blocked Gryphons outside Zach Newman for 25-20.
Much as their quick start in set one had pushed Guelph onto the back foot, the Marauders similarly grabbed hold of momentum in the second with a seven-point run for 11-4 capped by a thunderous kill from Passalent.
Momentarily turning the tide following the technical timeout, the Gryphons forced a Marauders timeout by closing within six points at 21-15 following a pair of kills from Jared Harris. But the hill was simply too steep for the visitors to climb, and despite dodging a trio of set points, Guelph succumbed to the fourth when Josh Green was called on an error.
A third positive start saw the Marauders build a 10-5 lead in the third set, as kills from Passalant and fellow third-year Craig Ireland helped the home side pull away.
Never particularly close to springing the upset and prolonging the night, the Gryphons closed within six points at 18-12 before watching the Marauders piece together a back-breaking 6-1 run to bring up match points.
The third of those proved fatal, as Oliver Hissink’s attack sailed and the Marauders closed out the convincing sweep.
Next Up: McMaster visits a perennial rival Saturday, as the Marauders travel to Waterloo to battle the Warriors. That match is slated to get underway at 8:00 pm EST.