Photo by Matty Flader / Photo Reporter

While most of us got some well-deserved rest over the break, the women’s volleyball team was hard at work. Not only did they play games, but they signed yet another top recruit.

The Marauders signed Hayley Brookes in early December. Brookes comes from the Halton Hurricanes, a club team in Burlington. The Hurricanes have won consecutive national championships, and the team consistently churns out top university recruits. This includes a standout rookie from the Marauders, Marina Vesovic, who is tied for second-most kills over the season for the Marauders with 42.

Brookes is a five-foot-eleven libero whose defensive prowess will certainly be noticed by opposing teams come fall 2020. A libero is resemblant of a game manager, using offensive passing to place the ball for a setter to use to their advantage. They are also primarily responsible for mitigating the opposing offence’s attack.

Signing a top recruit was not the only big event that happened over the break.

Every year the University of Winnipeg holds a tournament called the Wesmen Classic. This year marked the Wesmen Classic’s 53rd iteration as they hosted eight teams including the Marauders. The maroon and grey won their first game against the Brandon University Bobcats in three sets. Unfortunately, they lost their next three straight games without taking a set. To cap off the tournament, the Marauders once again beat the Bobcats in the seventh-place game to take seventh place.

The team’s return to the court was not entirely sour. They faced the University of Toronto Blues on Jan. 3, winning the match in the fifth set. The Varsity Blues sit tied with Ryerson atop of the Ontario University Athletics East division with a record of eight wins and one loss. A win against the Blues provides the women’s team with great momentum heading into the remainder of the season.

The team has a double-header against the Lakehead University Thunderwolves on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 to start the new year. The Thunderwolves have been struggling so far this season, having won only one one out of eight games, however  beating them still won’t be easy.

A challenging schedule lies ahead of the women’s team following their double-header. They have two matches against the Brock University Badgers, who sit atop the OUA West, and one with the Ryerson University Rams, who are tied as the leading team in the OUA East with a record of eight wins and one loss.

Even though the Wesmen Classic may not have gone as well as the team would have hoped, it was a productive winter break for the Marauders as they not only played hard, but also secured a recruit who should be a key athlete for the future.

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Photo by Kyle West / Sports Reporter

For those in the know, McMaster Volleyball has long been a force to be reckoned with. Over the years the program has sent players overseas to play in professional leagues such as the Polish PlusLiga, seen its graduates make Olympic appearances and taken down National Collegiate Athletic Association Division one teams. To those who didn’t already know all this, the Can Am Volleyball Holiday Showcase helped shed some light on McMaster’s success.

The Can Am Volleyball Holiday Showcase, which took place Dec. 28 to 31 2019, was a set of three matches that pit three of the top Canadian university volleyball programs against strong American foes.

Other than McMaster, two other Canadian universities at the Can Am tournament were the Trinity Western University Spartans and the University of Alberta Golden Bears. The three Canadian teams made their way to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre to face off with the Long Beach State 49ers, the Lewis University Flyers and the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins.

McMaster is no stranger to the strength of Long Beach State’s volleyball program, having played them over four times in the past two years. McMaster has come out on top in two of the last three matchups. Unfortunately, they fell just short in this year’s match with a final score of three to two.

What it looks like when @MACMVB wins a thrilling 5 set victory over perennial national volleyball powerhouse @TrinityWestern Spartans! Congratulations to Coach @DavePreston1 and this gutsy Mac team! @mcmastersports #hamont pic.twitter.com/9mFweD4h44

— Terry Cooke (@TerryCookeHCF) January 4, 2020

Following the Can Am Showcase, McMaster moved forward with their second act of holiday break tournaments with a two day showdown against the west coast’s Canadian volleyball powerhouse, Trinity Western University, upsetting them in the first match with a thrilling kill to bring home the W in the fifth set. The Marauders also took home another win on the fourth, securing two straight wins against the Spartans. This success provided McMaster with the confidence to enter the continuation of the season with a brand new perspective.

Looking forward to the new year ahead, McMaster holds the top seed in the western conference of the Ontario University Athletics. They are preparing to face several opponents throughout the OUA.

First off will be Ryerson University on Jan. 17 and Trent university on Jan. 18. Ryerson, who is second seeded in the OUA’s eastern conference, will surely be a tough fight for the Marauders. However, if Mac continues to utilize the fast attack and strong offensive structure seen over the past few matches, we may see the Marauders to swoop in on the Rams.

The Trent University Excalibur coming to town will likely be a relief for the Marauders as the Excalibur is currently in last place, without any wins. Following this game, Mac will face more difficult interconference opponents such as the Brock University Badgers and the Guelph University Gryphons over the rest of the month.

McMaster is currently tied for first in all of the OUA with their Toronto-based rival, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues. Looking to take the season away and start 2020 in the same fashion as the 2019 season, the men’s volleyball team could have the opportunity to end their season as number one.

We are looking to see another winning season, which will hopefully lead to another run for the national championship. McMaster volleyball’s winning tradition is in the midst to continue for another year in 2020.

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