We came, we saw, we conquered. This was the mood in the Love Competition Hall on Nov. 24, as the McGill Martlet volleyball team (8-2) dismantled the cross-river Université de Sherbrooke Vert et Or (2-7) in three sets. McGill’s success was centered around an aggressive, punishing offence that tallied 37 kills on the night. A stifling defensive showing—especially in the final set—complimented the Martlet attack, allowing them to conquer the Vert et Or in decisive fashion.
The McGill faithful erupted early as fourth-year Emilie Matte de Grasse served an ace—the first of a five-point string to open the game. The Vert et Or fought back, tying the game twice and even taking the lead midway through the set. However, the Martlets quickly found a winning formula, setting repeatedly to second-year Claire Vercheval, who registered a game-high 12 kills. McGill finished off the first set with another five-point run to a comfortable 25-18 scoreline.
The Martlets were unable to maintain a lead in the beginning of the second set, where the midpoint saw McGill down 12-8, their largest deficit of the night.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum, so it’s normal that sometimes you just slow down a little bit,” Martlet Head Coach Rachele Beliveau said. “But at the same time, the downs cannot [last] forever, so we have to regain the momentum and then be strong after that.”
The Martlets kept their composure to tie the set at 12 after an ace from second-year Rowan Fletcher. This was the final challenge the Martlets faced, and they ran away with the rest of the set. A hammer down the right side by Vercheval ended the stanza 25-20.
McGill’s performance in the third set was even stronger. After dropping the first point, the Martlets regained control, preventing any final pushback from Sherbrooke. With two false sets in a row from second-year Martlet setter Catherine Duchaine, the Vert et Or were on their heels. This set the stage for fifth-year Erika Cournoyer to hammer down the biggest kill of the night, leaving fans from both teams in awe. The crowd remained abuzz until the final blow was driven down the right flank by Vercheval, ending the set 25-14.
Beliveau was quick to praise her team’s effort.
“Intense, aggressive, quick movement, [and] good defence,” Beliveau said. “We worked a lot on defence recently, [and] I saw a big difference. And as [we] calmed down, we were more in control of the game, and we started to play with more confidence.”
Cournoyer, who had six kills on the night, reiterated her coach’s sentiments on the team’s mindset throughout the game.
“We were very calm, and we were in control of what we were doing,” Cournoyer said. “We were pretty confident, so that’s what got us to stick together.”
The Martlets rounded out the weekend with a 3-2 win against the Laval Rouge et Or (6-3) on Nov. 26, and the two wins place them in a tie for first place with the Université de Montréal Carabins (8-1). The two powerhouses will face off to begin the new year on Jan. 12 at Love Competition Hall.
Moment of the Game
The night’s top play came from second-year Martlet setter Catherine Duchaine, who hammered two consecutive Sherbrooke sets down the heart of the Vert et Or defence in the final set.
“I think we just came out strong, […] veni vidi vici.” – Fifth-year Erika Cournoyer
In McGill’s dominant third set, the Martlets spiked home 13 kills, with their strong defence only allowing six kills by the opposing Vert et Or.