McMaster men’s volleyball streak of perfection continues into final games as coach Dave Preston nears retirement

Jovan Popovic
February 16, 2023
Est. Reading Time: 4 minutes

The team has moved to a perfect record of 17 wins as they look to close out the final three games of their season on the road 

The countdown is on; after a perfect 12-win record in 2021-2022, the men’s volleyball team continue their efforts to repeat their perfect results this year. Before finishing the season, they will face off against the York University Lions on Feb. 11, the Toronto Metropolitan University Bold on Feb. 17, and the Toronto University Varsity Blues on Feb. 19. The Varsity Blues present the biggest challenge as a provincial championship rematch from last season, despite the Marauders having already taken them down earlier this year. 

The last few games played really show what the team is capable of as they increased their record to 17 consecutive wins. In January they faced off against the Waterloo University Warriors and the Lions, who rank second and third in the Ontario University Athletics standings respectively. They swept the Warriors three wins to none and disposed of the Lions three wins to one.  

Another extremely impressive showing came against the Royal Military College Paladins. The Paladins rank last in the standings, having yet to win a game this season. However, it was the final line score that really impressed. McMaster University would win their sets by final scores of 25 to 16, 25 to eight and 25 to six, executing a blowout through and through in their final home games of the year.  

Despite the season long success, the possibility of the perfect record is still in question following star Sam Cooper suffering a foot fracture, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the regular season. Last season Cooper was named an OUA all-star, made the U Sports second team all-Canadian, and was named to the Canadian senior national team. He is a major loss, but is eying a playoff return.  

Despite the season long success, the possibility of the perfect record is still in question following star Sam Cooper suffering a foot fracture, which will keep him sidelined for the remainder of the regular season.

Thus far the team hasn’t shown any signs of weakness without him in their recent matches, showing the strength of the team depth. Their ambitions remain high as stars like Mateusz Wlodarski and Maxime Gratton continue to shoulder the load, and breakouts like Brendan Mills have stepped up when needed.  

“Our guys are really working hard, they know what’s at stake. . . They’ve got a great opportunity in front of them, and thus far they’re really doing a great job of taking advantage of that,” said Dave Preston, the team’s head coach. 

Preston had an especially emotional couple of games in their final home stretch, as he will be retiring following the end of this season. In Preston’s time at McMaster, the Marauders would see 10 provincial championship victories, the first having come in the 2007-2008 season. Prior to the game against the Paladins on Feb. 3, McMaster held a pre-game ceremony to honor the reigning OUA coach of the year.  

“It tugged at my heart strings pretty good. . . [my family is] woven into that fabric of the team, so it was pretty cool. I didn’t realize until midway through the tribute that it was my daughters that were doing the voice over work. It’s been 21 years here, my family has grown up here, we’ve bled maroon for a long time, so it meant a lot to us,” explained Preston.  

"It’s been 21 years here, my family has grown up here, we’ve bled maroon for a long time, so it meant a lot to us.”

Dave Preston, Men's Volleyball Coach

Preston has long had the respect of his athletes and as much as he tried to keep his cool through his final home games ever to let the players focus on the game, the team knew what the game meant and what they were playing for.  

“When I saw Dave’s family come down to greet him after [the ceremony] it honestly made me throw a tear, really fired me up. . . It feels really good to have such a convincing win and doing what we said we were going to do at home, especially for a moment like that,” said Wlodarski.  

Despite the special circumstances between the ceremony for Preston, as well as seniors night on day two of the back-to-back to honor the graduates of the team ⁠— Wlodarski, Wojciech Kraj and Jason Wildeboer ⁠— the Marauders still kept their professional tone of taking the game in stride and looking at the bigger picture rather than celebrating the smaller victories along the way, taking on the “mamba mentality” perspective

“We don’t really think of the set score as a gauge of how we’re doing, it’s more so a reflection of the preparation and the work we’re putting in. . . Team goals are to secure as much home court as possible for the playoffs,” said Wlodarski.  

With the U Sports national championship taking place at McMaster this March, there is an opportunity for a picture-perfect ending for Preston’s time at the school. Between the newfound motivation for the team, the possibility of a perfect regular season record, the home court advantage all the way through nationals and the potential return of Sam Cooper just in time for the playoffs, the Marauders have all the momentum they can possibly ask for. 

When it comes to questioning the goals and ambitions for the Marauders this season, nobody puts it as well as the head coach.  

“I think that answer is pretty clear,” said Preston. 

“I think that answer is pretty clear.”

Dave Preston, Men's Volleyball Coach

Author

  • Jovan Popovic

    Jovan is a fourth year commerce student from Hamilton who has long had a love for sports and journalism. After years of competitive baseball and basketball, an injury shifted Jovan's love of sports to writing. Jovan held the position of Sports Staff Writer for two years before becoming the editor at The Sil. After university, Jovan hopes to continue his studies at law school, while continuing to fulfill his writing passion as a member of a major sports media outlet.

    View all posts
Subscribe to our Mailing List

© 2024 The Silhouette. All Rights Reserved. McMaster University's Student Newspaper.
magnifiercrossmenuarrow-right