The McGill Martlets (11-6) fell to the Université de Montréal Carabins (14-3) 3-0 Friday. Despite strong teamwork and a hot start, the Martlets could not overcome the Carabins’ potent attack, dropping all three sets.
As the match started, the Martlets seemed confident, especially after winning 3-2 in their last meeting against division-leading Montréal. McGill delivered a solid performance in a captivating match, fighting hard to win the third set 17-15 in its opponents’ gym.
With only two weeks left before the RSEQ semifinals, and the Martlets stuck in a three-way tie for second place in the four-team division, both teams were very aware of how crucial the game was. The atmosphere was intense in Love Competition Hall, and with the support of a large home crowd, the team’s spirits were high.
The first set was punctuated by even play from both sides as McGill tried to surprise its opponent for the second time in a row. McGill succeeded in putting up a good fight for most of the first set, but couldn’t keep it up, losing 25-17.
As the game progressed, the Carabins gained confidence, and it showed in their aggressive offence. With 33 kills, they had McGill’s defence on the ropes all game. Despite leading for some time during the first set, things fell apart for the Martlets in the next two, which McGill dropped 25-13 and 25-8.
Montréal seemed truly motivated to get revenge for last week’s dramatic upset, and showcased a balanced attack for the crowd. They put a lot of pressure on McGill’s defence and serve reception, making it difficult for them to create on offence.
“The last time we played Montréal, we were able to suprise them with various plays and we served very well,” said Head Coach Rachèle Béliveau. “[This time,] the Carabins were dominant at the net and their serve reception was better.”
Montréal also benefited from a strong blocking game, registering 11 blocks compared to just five for McGill. Martlet rookie middle Myriam Robitaille was a bright spot on the night, turning in a solid performance at the net with four kills and three blocks.
“Last week against Montreal, we served really [well] and were able to destabilize their serve reception and their [offence,] but tonight we were more defensive than aggressive,” Robitaille said. “We have to create more attacking opportunities.”
Despite great effort and determination by sophomore libero Marjolaine Ste-Marie on defence, the Carabins’ outside hitters proved to be too much, using their height to their advantage. Martlet veteran power-hitter Ashley Norfleet and setter Marie-Christine Lapointe still managed to get five kills each with the help of star setter Yasmeen Dawoodjee’s steady performance.
This season has been very back-and-forth thus far for the Martlets, who have registered at least one win and one loss to every team in their division. The Carabins sit atop the RSEQ with 14 wins, but McGill, Sherbrooke (11-6), and Laval (11-6) are all tied for second with 11 wins.
“For the last games of the season, we’ll concentrate on us as a team, and try to play more aggressively at the net,” Robataille explained. We [aren’t talking] about playoff games yet because we are really focusing on those last decisive matches.”
After a dramatic 3-2 win against Laval Saturday, the Martlets will look to ride the momentum and solidify their playoff chances with a win against Sherbrooke this Friday. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Love Competition Hall, and will be the Martlets’ last home game of the year before embarking on a two-game road trip to cap off the regular season.