C/O Colin Wouda, McMaster Sports
The men’s volleyball team make OUA history once more, capping off the perfect final season for star veteran, Jordan Pereira
The McMaster Marauders men’s volleyball team is finally back on top of Ontario. In a back and forth battle starting in the 2005-2006 season, either the Queens Gaels or the Marauders have won the provincial title every year. McMaster currently holds nine titles while Queens holds the other six. In the previous two seasons the Gaels brought home the OUA title, but after an incredibly strong showing this past year, the Marauders have taken the trophy back to Hamilton.
With stars Sam Cooper and Jordan Pereira, the team was able to cap off their regular season with a perfect 12-0 record. Heading into the OUA playoffs the Marauders had some trouble with the Windsor Lancers, but managed to pull away before beating the Brock Badgers in the west division final and the Toronto Varsity Blues in the Forsyth Cup final.
“The whole playoff run was a good battle . . . Getting to play the finals at home in my last year and winning the game and having everyone celebrating really was a surreal feeling. After losing the last two, getting to win this one, I was crying after the game. I was overwhelmed with emotion,” said Pereira
On top of their legendary title run, several members of the team ended the year with individual recognitions. Dave Preston took the coach of the year award. Robbie Fujisawa and Maxime Gratton made the all-rookie team while Gratton also won the rookie of the year award. Wojtek Kraj and Mateusz Wlodarski were named to the second all-star team, while Sam Cooper and Jordan Pereira found themselves on the first all-star team.
The star-studded team continued their journey past the OUA playoffs and into the national tournament less than a week later. The team had their sights set on gold, but ended up losing their first matchup against the Calgary Dino’s, meaning that their first loss of the year would immediately send them into the consolation bracket.
“The quarter finals [of nationals] was a tough battle. Calgary is a really good team and we fell a little short. We fought really hard. Obviously it was a tough pill to swallow, losing in the quarter finals. We had our hopes on winning a national title,” explained Pereira.
The Marauders would follow the loss with two more wins against the Queen’s Gaels and the Manitoba Bisons, yielding a bittersweet fifth place finish in the tournament.
There were many emotional moments in the nationals run, but the player who was arguably most flooded with emotion was Pereira, who was playing the final game of his university career.
“In the Manitoba game right after the second set I was just sitting there on the bench like ‘woah, this is my last time wearing this uniform’ . . . I remember in Winnipeg after the last match I had my jersey on. Everyone was taking theirs off and changing, but I kept mine on. I didn’t want to take it off,” said Pereira.
Pereira spoke extremely highly of his time with the team, both this year and in the past. In his rookie year he became a champion with the team winning the OUA title. Now, he leaves a champion as well, cementing his legacy in maroon.
“Getting to win that in my final year was a great honour . . . I’m glad I chose this school. I made so many good friends, good relationships [and] met my girlfriend. It was really a great journey. We’ve had a lot of success, we’ve won some championships, we’ve lost some championships, but at the end of the day I’ve grown a lot as a person, as a player and as a student at the school. I’ll forever be grateful for picking this school,” explained Pereira.
Despite losing a star, the team is still set for years to come. It’s a very young team and the roster won’t experience much turnover heading into their next season. Pereira felt confident that the team will continue to find long term success and will have several more opportunities to reach their goal of a national title.
“This might be one of the most athletic teams we’ve had. The ceiling was really high . . . At the end of the day, we all play McMaster volleyball. Dave [Preston] runs a good show. I think they can expect the same as always with Dave as the coach because he’s built such a great culture. It’s the kind of thing that just keeps feeding into itself. Excellence breeds excellence. This team has a bright future. I see ourselves winning a championship one day,” said Pereira
Over the course of the season, the volleyball team had to be one of the most entertaining to watch for students, packing the house in the provincial championship matchup. With much of their core still intact for next season, they will continue to be a team for students and fans to keep their eye on for years to come.