The McMaster Marauders men’s volleyball team returned home from the California trip to host Jastrzebski Wegiel, a professional team from Poland.

Close to 1000 fans turned out for the first of two exhibition matches between the two teams that would take four sets to decide with the home side taking the match three sets to one by scores of 19-25, 25-12, 25-23, 25-20.

Most of the first set saw the teams trade points, many of them coming on service errors, but as the set wore on Jastrzebski started to find their rhythm and started to go on a couple of short runs which led to their set victory.

The second set started off the same way with attack and service errors, but the Marauders then pulled it together and rattled off nine straight points for a 13-4 lead. From there the teams again traded points but another run by McMaster led them to a set win to tie up the match.

That set victory spurred the Marauders on as they looked like a different team than anybody had seen this season. Their serves and spikes seemed to have more force behind them. It was like the OUA champions of the past six years were back in the Burridge Gymnasium.

The third set was the most competitive on the night, which saw ten lead changes. Each team would go on runs and at the technical timeout Jastrzebski held a 16-15 lead. Coming out of the break, McMaster would score on a Craig Ireland kill before David Doty served up three points for the lead. However, Jastrzebski scored six of the next seven points forcing the Marauders to take a timeout.

With the Marauders regrouping and taking a one-point lead following the timeout Jastrzebski took one of their own. The Polish club would then tie up the game, giving the crowd the feeling that to win this set the teams would need extra points, but Mac took the next two points to take a two-sets to one lead.

The Marauders took nine of the first 15 points in the fourth set but Jastrzebski pushed back taking ten points to Mac’s five for a two-point lead at the technical timeout. However, the visitors would manage to post just four points following the technical while McMaster scored 11 to take the set and the match.

For Jastrzebski, David Nabialczk led the way with 12 points in the match with Krystian Walczak just a point behind him. On the other side of the net, Matt Passalent seemed to be back in mid-season form even though he sat out much of the first half of the OUA season due to an injury. Passalent would post 18 points in the match on 14 kills, three solo blocks and two block assists to be named player of the match for the home squad. The next closest in scoring for the Marauders was Craig Ireland who had 11.5 points.

The two teams will be back on the Burridge Gymnasium court on Saturday at 3:00 PM to close out their two-match exhibition series.

Prior to the Mac match, there will be another game that will take place between the Jastrzebski Wegiel youth team and Team Ontario junior team. That match will get underway at 1:00 PM.

Jastrzebski Wegiel plays in Poland’s top-flight league and sits in third place in the Plusliga standings with a 10-3 record, one point out of second place and have qualified for the European Volleyball Conference (CEV) Champions League.