The McGill Martlet (15-7) volleyball program has never won an RSEQ championship. This year’s team is determined to make history and took a step further to reaching that goal on Senior Night, beating the last-placed UQAM Citadins (5-16) in three sets to one (25-17, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17).
The Citadins, who just completed their first season in program history, were resilient in all four sets—they clawed their way back from a deficit in the second period before winning 26-24 and were within striking distance of the Martlets; however, with the win McGill secured home court advantage in the RSEQ playoffs where they will face off against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or (15-7), with whom they are currently tied for second place in the RSEQ standings. Martlet Head Coach Rachele Beliveau highlighted her team’s character and execution as the keys to success in the victory.
“I think […] we played a pretty good game,” Beliveau said. “The execution [was good], except at the end of the second set where we made some mistakes that I think we shouldn’t really be doing [….] The good thing is we were able to come back and then we came back in the third set from 11-17 to […] win the set. It shows character [….] We have done it a few times this year and we were able to come back and equalize the game and get the win.”
The two teams were fairly even through the first set until senior power hitter Catherine Amyot captured momentum with four straight aces. She also had five kills in the first set, showcasing an array of moves to put points on the board. Amyot was sensational, finished with 22 kills on the night, a game-high.
Senior setter Dawoodjee, who was honoured after the game for a decorated five-year career, spread the ball effectively to her teammates throughout the game and exhibited poise throughout. Sophomore power hitter Emilie Matte de Grasse also had a standout performance on the night, notching 12 kills. Moving forward, the Martlets will continue to rely on both Dawoodjee and Matte de Grasse as well as the steady presence of middle hitter Myriam Robitaille, who finished with 11 kills and three blocks.
Although the Martlets have never won the RSEQ championship, they won a bronze medal in 2012 at the CIS National Championships. They’ll be looking to return to the national level starting next Friday, Feb. 19 in their semifinal against the Vert et Or. The two teams will face off in a best-of-three game series. It will be a challenge for the Martlets to make history but Beliveau is confident that her squad is up for the task.
“If we win the semifinals this week, we will go to Nationals,” Beliveau said. “Our goal is really focusing this week on playing Sherbrooke. If we attack well and can have a good variation in the offence we should be able to get through.”
Moment of the game
Dawoodjee found Amyot who promptly spiked a dagger straight into the ground, icing the game for match point.
The Martlets were active on their feet, tallying 75 digs, 49 more than the Citadins.
“[Dawoodjee] improved a lot [over her McGill career]. In the first season she was only 18 years old […] and coming into our league […] everybody is two years older from the beginning and when you come at only 18 years old in it’s a big game. She has good physical qualities, and we started to work and work and work. When she stepped on the court three years ago, from that moment [on] she only improved from one year to the other. We did some individual [work], she prepared well in the summer, […] so it was just give her ball so she can learn. And she has improved every single year.” – Beliveau on Dawoodjee’s career.