Captain Geneviève Plante beats Sherbrooke wall. (Remi Lu / McGill Tribune)
Captain Geneviève Plante beats Sherbrooke wall. (Remi Lu / McGill Tribune)

Work in progress: Martlets split weekend bouts

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It was another rollercoaster weekend for the Martlets—a recurring theme in the 2012-2013 campaign. Starting with Sherbrooke on Friday, McGill lost in four hard-fought sets 18-25, 26-28, 25-19, 24-26, before rebounding on Saturday against the tough Rouge-et-Or, triumphing in a nail-biter five setter 16-25, 27-25, 25-18, 15-25, 16-14.

Inconsistency proved to be the Martlets’ downfall against Sherbrooke. Their sporadic offence, combined with a few costly serving errors thoroughly hindered the team throughout the contest. Such mistakes have plagued the squad all season. After the game, many of the Martlets looked disheartened, as the loss dropped them to 7-8 on the year, and kept them in last in the RSEQ. Third-year veteran Virginie Hébert spoke about the team’s struggles.

“It was definitely a tough loss, emotionally and physically. All sets were hard-fought, and it could have gone either way since both teams were presenting outstanding defence and offence tonight,” Hébert said. “This team is really talented, but experience might be lacking due to the number of young faces [we have]. Despite that, we are constantly improving throughout the season, and results will come eventually with the hard work.”

On Saturday, however, McGill finally put together a total team effort. Laval entered the contest atop the RSEQ and was nursing a five game winning streak. Rookie middle Ashley Norfleet dominated on the attack, accumulating 16 kills and 17.5 total points. Norfleet’s performance could be a signal that the team’s many rookies are starting to hit their strides and improving to the level required in the tough RSEQ. If that is the case, the final four contests of the regular season could be a chance for McGill to move into one of the top positions in the league—and with it, a chance to battle for the division title.

“It felt like a true team win and a final accomplishment to all the efforts we put in in practice,” Hébert said. “Everybody contributed to this [win] one way or another, and I think we proved to ourselves that we could beat any team in the RSEQ conference playing that way.”

Head Coach Rachèle Beliveau admitted that the team still needs to play with more consistency.

“Our league is very competitive and strong within the CIS. We are playing very good matches, and yet are still fighting to get a place into the series,” she said. “Since our team is young, we do not have the consistency in our play to prevent it. At our level, there is not too much room for mistakes and learning opportunities.”

With the win against Laval, McGill climbed back to .500, at 8-8, and into striking distance of the neighbouring 10-6 Montreal Carabins. The Martlets next contest is important for their playoff hopes, as they hit the road to take on the Carabins on Jan. 25.