JOVAN POPOVIC / SPORTS EDITOR
In one of the most highly anticipated exhibition games of the year, the Marauders lose after four sets against the NCAA division one powerhouse
Last season the men’s volleyball team made a huge statement after finishing the regular season undefeated and winning the Ontario University Athletics provincial title. Now McMaster University’s strongest team is finally getting their new season started.
Given the success from the previous season, the team got the opportunity to have a very meticulous preseason lined up. Prior to the 2021-2022 season, they only played one preseason game against Queen's University, where they were victorious with a three to one result.
This season, however, has been much more exciting for the Marauders. Thus far the team has played four exhibition games to prepare for the OUA season, but the most exciting of the group just took place on Oct. 15.
The big game came against American powerhouse school, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Historically speaking, the team usually attempts to face at least one American counterpart each season, and with the popularity of American college sports, it quickly becomes one of the most exciting games of the school year despite not counting in the standings.
The Marauders would end up losing by a final score of three to one but kept it close throughout with the individual set scores being 20-25, 24-26, 28-26 and 17-25. They continuously showed resilience, as proven by the scores heading north of the typical 25 on multiple occasions.
The Marauders will have a chance at redemption following the winter break in January, when they continue the North America Challenge. This time they’ll match up against the 2018 and 2019 American national champion and 2022 runner up Long Beach State University Dirtbags. The matchups will take place on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7 in Hamilton.
Despite the disappointing outcome of the Buckeyes game, the team remains one of the strongest in the continent. They match up against tough opponents for a reason and look to take the competitive mindset from these games into the regular season as they attempt to go for the gold once again.
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This past holiday season, McMaster Marauders handed the Ohio State Buckeyes two losses on their home court in Columbus, OH.
McMaster played Ohio State twice (one exhibition, one regular season match) and won both matches. Ohio State was ranked No. 6 in the NCAA. Second-year outside hitter Andrew Richards and fourth-year outside hitters Jayson McCarthy and Stephen Maar scored double digits for McMaster in both matches.
Last Thanksgiving McMaster made the trip to Columbus and suffered two losses to the Buckeyes. The McMaster team that took the floor in Columbus this time around was different and it showed.
“I think the biggest thing is that we have a better understanding of what our team definition is,” said Head Coach Dave Preston. “We know what we do and we know how we do it.”
Just as it is important to know who you are as a person because it’ll define the way you live, it is important for teams to know who they are because it’ll define the way they play.
In the first match on New Year’s Eve, Ohio State sent McMaster into a quick 2-0 hole, but McMaster refused to let the sweep happen. Going down without a fight is uncharacteristic of them. The Marauders looked to the leadership of Alex Elliott, Stephen Maar, Danny Demyanenko, and Andrew Richards to right the ship and get the team mentally back on track.
“We talked about it the whole time in the timeout. We’re going to outwork these guys. Even if we might not feel like we’re in our best state, we’re going to outwork them,” said Maar.
It took the next three sets to complete the comeback.
“Once we made it to the fifth set we felt there was no way we were going to lose,” Maar said.
“When things get chaotic, we know what we’re looking for. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you push the ‘reset’ button, there’s nothing to reset to,” said Preston. “It’s really important that you define yourselves so that when it’s not going the way you want, you can immediately recalibrate.”
The second match, which was also the Buckeyes season opener, took place on Jan. 2 and McMaster came out even stronger handing Ohio State their first official regular season loss. McMaster walked into Ohio’s gym and beat them twice in three days.
“Quite honestly, we expected to go down there and win. I don’t think anybody else really expected us to, but I think we did,” Preston said.
“I thrive on the thrill of international competition. It was our anthem against theirs. You could feel the tension in the game,” said Maar. “It felt good to win there this year. It shows the growth of our program.”
The wins are very impressive. However, Coach Preston doesn’t want their success to get blown out of proportion.
“We’re not going to get caught up on those Ohio State wins. Ohio State is a reference point for us. It’s somewhere we can look back to in order to see how we responded well against a quality opponent,” Preston said. “When we started out this season we wanted to learn how to take a punch. We took some punches in Columbus, but we got back up on our feet and we continued to fight.”
“I don’t care whether it’s Ohio State or any other NCAA school. I care more that the opponent we were playing had enough game to punch us. More importantly, I care that our team could take the punch and respond. That was important to me,” Preston said. “It was about my guys learning how to deal with the adversity.”
McMaster is confident in their ability and identity. It is scary for opponents when you see a team that is rock solid in their foundation and has battle scars to prove that they’re battle-tested and war-ready. This team is a band of soldiers that has faced and overcome adversity all while consistently performing at a high-level.
McMaster enters their first game week of 2016 at 11-0 and No. 1 in the nation. They host Queen’s on Jan. 15 at 8 p.m. at Burridge Gym.
It’s hard to rattle a team like this, especially when they’ve been locked in for so long.
“Remember who we are. That’s the theme. It’s about who we are, what we do, and how we do it,” said Preston. “Our style may not work for the next team down the road, but it works for us. We understand it and we know how to get back to it when we’re off it. Those wins haven’t really changed us. We just like what we do and it’s working for us.”
Photo Credit: Monish Ahluwalia
By: Jaycee Cruz
The McMaster basketball team bus arrived in Ottawa and out came McMaster Forward Troy Joseph donning a Toronto Maple Leafs toque, some NCAA headphones, a Long Island University gym bag, and a McMaster Basketball backpack.
Each of those accessories tell us a little bit about the 6’5” forward who decided to forego his final year of eligibility at Long Island University Brooklyn (NCAA Division-1) to play here at McMaster. This isn’t a random transfer up north, but a sort of return home for the Scarborough, Ontario native.
Now the Maple Leafs toque and the NCAA headphones make some sense.
Joseph played 2 seasons playing for the Long Island University (LIU) Blackbirds in Brooklyn, NY. LIU Brooklyn is part of the Northeast Conference (NEC). While playing for LIU, Joseph was part of three NEC championship teams and has experience playing in the NCAA March Madness tournament.
Almost exactly a year ago, Joseph was the leading scorer for an LIU team that lost 73-72 on the road at Indiana University. Joseph scored 16 points on 5-9 shoot- ing (4-7 from 3-point range), one less than Indiana forward Noah Vonleh— a freshman drafted ninth overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Joseph brings valuable experience and leadership to this already experienced Marauders squad.
The NCAA transfer has found his transition from LIU to Mac as a difficult, but welcoming at the same time.
“It’s harder than I thought it would be in terms of coming to a new team, understanding their concepts, different rotations and different terminologies. I’m still dealing with that stuff now, but its not that bad,” Joseph said.
“I was in terrible condition at first so it was harder back then but now I’m in better shape. Honestly, it’s just me understanding the team, how the team operates, their terminologies, and all that stuff.”
Despite the growing pains of change, Joseph credits and cites his experience playing NCAA basketball as the reason for his mental strength and relentless work ethic.
“Division-1 was tough, definitely tough. Coaches were tough on me from year one to year four. There were a lot of expectations so it was tough. I liked it though, it has helped me become mentally tough and develop a strong work ethic. My mindset is to keep going, to play hard all the time,” said Joseph.
That’s the one thing NCAA coaches are big on: playing hard all the time and not taking a play off. When I came to Mac, every practice I was applying what I learned and just bringing it over. If Division-1 taught me anything, it was playing hard and being relentless.”
In terms of bonding with his new teammates, Joseph paints a warm picture of the Marauder basketball family off the court. “The team has treated me like I came in with them and knew them for four years. Knowing Aaron [Redpath] and Leon [Alexander] helped; I got close with Taylor [Black] and Rohan [Boney] quickly, and bonded with young guys like Connor [Gilmore] and Dave McCulloch. Dave McCullough’s family and my family knew each other. It was kind of crazy how it happened. I played with Joe for Team Ontario. They took me in like it was nothing,” said Joseph.
Troy Joseph is a unique player on the court bringing what head coach Amos Connolly calls “guard quickness but forward length” making him a mismatch. He is a “wing-forward” type of player who has the ability to guard a forward but play a guard spot. Connolly describes one of Joseph’s standout qualities as being, “his commitment to being a good defender that is willing to be verbal and vocal on the defensive end.”
A lot of coaches preach that student comes first in the term “student-athlete” on purpose. For Joseph, that distinction is something he is aware of. “Troy is committed to being better at school and committed to being better on the court. He’s well-rounded,” said Connolly.
Joseph is expected to be able to attack forwards on the offensive end, but Connolly will use his defensive versatility to cause headaches for opponents. Joseph’s unique skill set gives Mac Basketball a threat on both sides of the ball that can play and guard several positions.
Joseph has two years of eligibility left and will spend them representing the maroon and white wearing the number five. While NCAA transfers have a history of joining a CIS team and dominating the playbook, Joseph is embracing his role and helping push this team further into the national championship conversation.