McMaster Men’s volleyball crowned OUA provincial champions yet again
Marauders sweep the Lancers to become back-to-back OUA champions in front of a sold-out crowd in Burridge
The McMaster Marauders are back on top of Ontario! Following a three-set sweep of the Windsor Lancers on Mar. 11, McMaster has officially won 11 titles in the last 15 seasons. They managed to do this in front of a rare sold-out crowd on home turf in Burridge.
The match came as highly anticipated, as the Marauders and Lancers were the first and second placed teams in the Ontario University Athletics standings. The Marauders dominated throughout, winning the first two sets by considerable margins of 11 and nine, while the third and final set was more competitive with just a four point difference.
Several players stepped up for the Marauders through the course of the game, but it was outside hitter Thomas Williams who put the final nail in the coffin. Williams would secure the gold on a spike from the right side.
“It feels great – I mean, why wouldn’t it feel great? We’ve worked really hard for this. We always knew we had the potential, and we’re always grateful to be here. . . We put in the work and we just earned it in the end with the way we played,” said Williams.
Williams was one of many to step up when the team needed them, but it was Brendan Mills whose performance took the cake. Mills, a 2022-2023 breakout player, would be named the player of the game shortly after the win became official. Mills stood out as a true two way player, impacting the game on both sides by leading the team in kills and blocks.
“Awesome it got to be me tonight, but every night it’s going to be a different guy. . . The job that our middles did keeping their middle blockers out of the way for me, and left side is obviously Sam [Cooper], Mateusz [Wlodarski], Max [Gratton], everyone had a great game tonight. I put it away when it came to me, but those guys made my life super easy. It’s not about me, it’s about the team,” explained Mills.
As big a deal as a provincial title is, the mindset of the team has already shifted to the national championship tournament less than one week away. Though McMaster already secured a spot as the tournament host for the year, the provincial championship only solidified the fact that they deserve to be there.
“It’s a great win, but we’ve got to completely shift our focus. Just because we won [provincials] doesn’t mean we’re going to win nationals easily. We’ve got to focus on each game at a time and really gotta dial in, especially against the [western] teams that are usually stronger. We’ve got to change our mindset now. Celebrate while we can, but we’ve got to keep moving forward and put that work in like we did for the OUA championships,” said Williams.
Winning the OUA championship is certainly an effective way to gain momentum heading into nationals. The third ranked team nationally will still have to tread carefully however, as injury issues remain a concern.
Offensive superstars Sam Cooper and Maxime Gratton still appear to be feeling the lingering affects of their injuries, both lower body. While he is still playing well, Cooper has yet to return to the level of stardom he maintained early in the season, and Gratton is seeing extremely low usage and is still walking with a clear limp. Cooper appears healthy, but rusty, while Gratton is clearly playing through injury. Either player could be the x-factor next week.
Until then, the team has plenty to celebrate. The Forsyth Cup will remain in Hamilton another year.