On February 19, The Blues returned to the Goldring Center from a two-game road trip to North Bay, where they won and lost one game each against the Nipissing Lakers. In their final game of the regular season, the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team beat the McMaster Marauders 3–1.
Prior to this game, the Marauders had only lost once in the entire season, a record that has placed them at the top of the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) standings and established the team as the second best in Canada. The Blues handed the Marauders their second loss and have now beaten them for the first time since 2016.
“They’re a great program [and] they’ve always been good,” left hitter Evan Falardeau said in a post-game interview with The Varsity. “Any win we can get against them is amazing.”
The Marauders took a commanding 11–8 lead early in the first set. Nevertheless, a service ace from setter Davis Young helped the Blues tie the game 15–15, and another service ace from left side Falardeau gave the Blues an 18–16 lead and forced a Marauders timeout. The Blues faced pressure from the Marauders but maintained their lead to win the set 25–20, with outside Mitchell Neurt and middle Hayden Cavender delivering the killing blow.
Three kills from Falardeau helped the Blues gain an early 7–3 lead in the second set. The Blues’ lead finally broke, as back-to-back kills from Marauders’ middle Wojciech Kraj gave them a narrow 18–17 lead. Yet, three kills from Neurt ensured that the set remained a tight affair, with two kills from Falardeau later in the set giving the Blues the lead 24–23. Despite a strong effort from the Marauders, the Blues finally closed out the dramatic set 27–25.
The Marauders started the third set strongly, but two service aces from Falardeau would give the Blues their first lead of the set, at 8–7. The Marauders would reclaim and extend their lead, but the Blues never gave up. Falardeau would tie the game again at 23–23, but the Blues couldn’t break through and the Marauders won the set 25–23.
The Blues dominated the beginning of the fourth set, as two kills from the left side Jayden Talsma gave them a 7–3 lead. The domination continued as a series of attacking errors increased the lead to 12–6, placing the Blues in firm control. Ultimately, the Marauders never recovered and it was a Marauders service error that ended the set 25–20 and gave victory to the Blues.
Falardeau finished the game with 19 kills and three service aces, while Neurt impressed with 17 kills and eight digs. Young finished with 47 assists and three blocks.
The Blues finished the season with a 13–7 record, placing them fourth in the OUA. “Having a great game [before the playoffs], and everyone playing well is just really exciting for us right now,” Falardeau suggested.
Falardeau finished the regular season with a league-leading 349 kills, averaging 4.26 kills per set. Elsewhere, the Blues’ libero Daniel Tudor led the OUA with 194 total digs.
With the regular season at a close, on February 25, at 7:00 pm, the Blues will host the Nipissing Lakers to play in the OUA quarter-final at the Goldring Centre.
“Being in our gym, [with] our fans, [and] everything we’re used to [is great],” Falardeau said. “It’s going to be amazing.”