Brock women’s volleyball came out on the losing end of a close game on Sunday. Playing host to the 4-1 McMaster Marauders, who are ranked seventh in the country, the Badgers put up a fight and showed that they can compete with one of the best teams in the province.
Playing at home for just the second time this season, the Badgers were up against their most talented opponent yet. Brock came out with a strong first set, but despite strong play and some extra motivation from the home fans, the Badgers came up just short dropping the set 26-24.
“We struggled a little bit with nerves at the beginning, but we played very tight and very smart,” said head coach Dale Ann Melnick.
After nerves caused them to fall behind early in the first set, the Badgers settled in and were able to come out strong in the second set. Brock built an early lead, taking advantage of a few McMaster miscues and finding themselves on the right side of a few long rallies. They found themselves up 16-13 at the technical timeout, and began to open the game up after, forcing McMaster to call a timeout with the score at 19-14. For a minute, it looked as though the Marauders were about to fight their way back into the set, but in the end the Badgers held on to win the second set 25-21 and even the game at one set each.
The Badgers level of play dropped a bit in the third set, and McMaster took advantage of it. Similar to the first set, Brock fell behind early and was unable to claw their way back. After being down 16-12 at the technical timeout, the Badgers rallied for five straights points to take the lead. But after a McMaster timeout, they came out strong and took the lead right back, cruising the rest of the way to a 25-20 win.
With the game on the line, the Badgers fought to stay alive in the fourth set. Similarly to most of the game, it was another close set between these two teams. The Badgers found themselves up 16-15 at the technical timeout, and continued to add to their lead, leading to a 22-18 lead before McMaster called a timeout. The Badgers seemed out of sync after the timeout, and after they were called for being out of rotation, there was a feeling that this set was about to slip away. With the lead cut to just one point, the Badgers found a way to regain their composure and close out the set for a 25-23 win.
The fifth set started with Brock taking the momentum, along with an early 4-1 lead. But as was the case all night long, McMaster found a way to battle back and take a 12-10 lead forcing a Brock timeout. It was only fitting that the final set would be tied at 14, but that was as close as Brock would come to pulling off the upset, losing 16-14.
“We had them,” said Melnick after the game. “They are a talented team; they have some smart players.”
“I thought we were really prepared to play them today, and we executed our game plan very well, so we’ll get them. We are so close,” said Melnick.
It was clear that this Badgers team is not the same one that finished last season with a 5-14 record. Now sitting at 2-3, it is clear that this team is better than the record shows. According to Melnick, the biggest difference between this team and teams from previous seasons has been their mentality.
“It really comes down to the dynamic,” she said. “They really want to be high performance athletes. They’ve committed to high performance training and just working really hard.”
Melnick sees some differences in their attitude on the court as well.
“They communicate much better than any team I’ve ever had before. I also think they’re not afraid to be tough on each other. They don’t sugarcoat anything, if there’s an issue they deal with it.”
“That team is top ten, and we went point for point with them. We’re there, I think where we are process wise, and moving into the new year it’s amazing.”
Brock’s next chance to get back in the win column will be on November 26 when they host the University of Toronto.