The McGill Martlets (7–3) faced the Laval Rouge et Or (6–4) in their second meeting of the season on Nov. 28. With persistence and pace, the Martlets emerged victorious. Winning three sets to two, the result placed them third in the RSEQ standings, now two points ahead of Laval.
During their first meeting of the season on Oct. 29, Laval won three sets to one. Charlene Robitaille, a fourth-year nutritional science student and middle blocker for the team, remarked that targeted practice has allowed the team to improve since then.
“For the last two weeks, we really concentrated on defence, being aggressive on the first contact, and improving serves,” Robitaille said in an interview with The McGill Tribune. “Last month, when we faced Laval, our serves were easy to return so they were in control. It was a great win tonight and the goal is to continue to practice a lot and to fight, be present, and stay together.”
The match was a hard-fought battle that sent spectators on an emotional roller coaster. The Martlets came out strong in the first set with a quick 6-3 lead, sparking confidence in the team as they dominated the set 25-17.
The second set proved to be a closer competition as the Rouge et Or adjusted—the two teams were neck-and-neck. The Martlets were relentless as their eyes glared with hunger for victory. However, after a Laval time-out, the Rouge et Or regrouped and came out to win the second set 26-24.
With the teams tied 1-1, McGill found a way to break through Laval’s defence, which led to a dominant 25-13 set win for the Martlets. Second-year setter Audrey Trottier had a great impact in the third set, making an amazing block followed by a spike of her own, leading Laval to call another timeout.
Though McGill was looking for the game-winning set in the fourth, the Rouge et Or fought hard to stay in the game. Miscommunication from the Martlets resulted in a 26-24 Rouge et Or set win to force a fifth set. Nevertheless, the Martlets proved that they came to win as they maintained a lead throughout the whole set (15-12) to seal their seventh win of the season.
Two incredible performances paved the way for the Martlet victory: Charlene Robitaille had herself a game, stacking 15 kills with a whopping 0.414 hitting percentage along with four aces. Victoria Iannotti, a third-year software engineering student and power-hitter for the team, led the team with 19 kills on a 0.372 hitting percentage and 16 digs.
Coach Béliveau was pleased with the team’s performance, but noted that there is always room for improvement.
“Today my team did an outstanding job on defence, it was amazing,” Béliveau said. “We still have a lot to improve. I am happy with our serving. Our digs were good today but I think we can do a little better towards the centre of the court eventually. I am happy to see improvements in aspects that we worked on.”
The Martlets will now have a little over a month off from competition before taking on first-place Sherbrooke on Jan. 7.
Moment of the Match: Third-year Victoria Iannotti buried a huge spike at the end of the fifth set to clinch the win for the Martlets.
Quotable: “For many players, because of the pandemic, it was their first time stepping on the court. They did really well under this pressure and I am happy we came out with the victory.”
-Coach Béliveau on the team’s performance.
Stat Corner: The team had a season-high 57 kills and 73 total points.