Men's volleyball team secure national bronze
After a very successful season, the Marauders finish their campaign off with a bronze medal win at the U Sport national championship on their home court
After a long season full of successes and long undefeated streaks, the Marauders have ended their mesmerizing season with a bronze in the U Sports national championship in Hamilton. The journey was a long one, having played a total of 34 games this season. There have been many ups and downs, with the main highlight being the astonishing 18 game winning streak in the Ontario University Athletics regular season.
In their final game of the season, the bronze medal game, the Marauders came out on top of the University of Alberta Golden Bears in a three set sweep, which brought their first national medal in years. The podium finish would have been impressive on it’s own, but the fact that it game against the first seeded team nationally made it that much sweeter.
“For me, coming into this program and seeing it already getting done before I came here, and seeing that the legacy has been continued, it’s something that I really wanted to be a part of. It’s been a goal for us, attaining a medal in the end knowing that we had home support,” said Sam Cooper, a fourth-year veteran player on the team and 2023 championship tournament all-star.
The game was a huge one for the Marauders; not only was this game the last one of the season, and for a medal in front of a hometown McMaster crowd, but it was also Dave Preston's last game as the head coach, after an astonishing 20 season career that featured all 12 of McMaster’s provincial titles.
“Leaving with hardware is a really good feeling. Although there were expectations of the colours being a bit different, we will still take it. . .Hats off to Alberta, they’re one of the best volleyball teams in Canada and to win against them for third place is a huge achievement. To have the medal is also a great honor for me that I’ll carry for the rest of my life,” explained Preston.
The preluding semifinal ended up in a disappointing three to one loss to the Trinity Western University Spartans, which is the game that sent McMaster to the bronze medal round. Breakout star Brendan Mills did not have the best game in the semifinal, having been subbed off for the injured Maxime Gratton after two sets, and started the game against Alberta with a couple of mistakes yet again. Fortunately, Mills quickly turned around by the end of the game, becoming an x-factor in having secured their third-place finish.
“My year started with a rough patch, so this set of games was not something that I was not used to. My whole year was full of ups and downs, and I feel that near the end of the season I managed to put the pieces together. In particular, in the OUA playoffs and nationals my performances got better. Yesterday (against TWU) was not my best game. The start today was not my best either, but I managed to get it together during the game, which I feel is better than getting myself together over a longer period, so I’m happy with that,” said Mills.
The Marauders have once again had an unforgettable season. There were many highlights to behold, such as the 18-game winning streak, or the OUA semifinals and finals sweeps against York and Windsor for their eleventh title in 15 years.
Although there may be regrets over falling short of the long-awaited gold medal in the nationals, the team can be absolutely delighted with the show of character and mesmerizing display over the season.