The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) Citadins (6-13) took the McGill Martlets (14-6) to task at the Feb. 16 Beach Night match, packing Love Competition Hall with McGill and UQAM fans alike. Scraping ahead at every crucial moment, the Citadins maintained control of the game, which culminated in a surprising 3-0 UQAM victory.
“It’s kind of unexpected,” fifth-year middle Érika Cournoyer said. “We worked hard in practice, but it just didn’t show up as we wished on the court.”
The first set was tight from the beginning, with blocks on both sides making for hard returns. However, UQAM pulled ahead of McGill in the middle of the frame and came out on top 25-22. Though the Martlets are comfortably seated in a playoff position, their opponents were fighting to secure a spot in the postseason, keeping the Citadins focused and motivated throughout the entire game.
“They’re actually playing for fourth place, so for a spot in the playoff,” fourth-year middle Myriam Robitaille said. “They had a really good second [half of the] season, and [they’re] going to be a team to respect for sure.”
In the second and third sets, the Martlets’ inability to return mid-range drives and deep spikes left them vulnerable to the Citadins’ strong attack. Many times, their dives and digs fell short, costing McGill dearly during critical points. The Martlets broke free from an 8-8 tie in the third set, but their lead proved fleeting, ultimately losing the final set 21-25.
“We have to [make] our first-contact passing a little closer to the net so we’re not putting ourselves in a tough situation to be able to hit and use the height we have,” Head Coach Rachele Beliveau said.
Against the backdrop of the Beach Night match, the Martlets paid homage to Cournoyer, Robitaille, and fifth-year libero Marjolaine Ste-Marie, who are all graduating after this season.
“All of them have contributed really well to the program, made the program grow, and it’s always hard to see them leave,” Beliveau said. “But at the same time, this is life, so they’re going to move on to something new.”
After Friday’s upset, the Martlets went on to sweep the Ottawa Gee Gees 3-0 on Feb. 17, a marked improvement over their previous 3-2 victory against the Gee-Gees on Jan. 28. Going into their playoff matchup against the Laval Rouge et Or, which is slated for the first weekend in March, McGill will focus on returning to an unpredictable playing style to stay one step ahead of their rivals.
Moment of the Game
The final McGill offensive began when second-year power Claire Vercheval spiked the ball off the UQAM blockers and out of bounds to break an 8-8 tie in the third set.
Even if they’re in [fourth place], they’re gonna show up, so we always have to be ready to play teams like this.” – Fifth-year middle Érika Cournoyer on UQAM’s grit and the upcoming challenge of the postseason
Martlets fourth-year Myriam Robitaille served a game-high five aces.