Tears flooded the court at the conclusion of the McGill Martlets’ last volleyball match of the season on Saturday evening. Although the Martlets fell in straight sets, the loss was not the main source of this outpouring of emotion. As with the end of any season, the Martlets had to say goodbye to their graduating seniors—and this year’s crop was a particularly talented and motivated group.
Setter and perennial All-Star Marcela Mansure will certainly be moving on next season, as she has used all of her five years of CIS eligibility. Joining her is Rebecca Canam, and potentially, captain and star power hitter, Geneviève Plante. Plante is graduating this year from a three-year program, but hopes to continue with the team in upcoming years, during a graduate degree.
Already eliminated from the playoffs, the Martlets still sought to finish the season on a positive note. First up were the Montreal Carabins on Thursday night, who rode the explosive talent of Sophie Bergeron- Leblanc and Marie-Sophie Nadeau, en route to a 26-24, 25-19, 25-15 victory. The Carabins closed out the last half of the season on fire, winning nine of their last 11 games to climb to seventh in the national CIS rankings.
To finish off the season on Saturday, the Laval Rouge-et-Or visited McGill. However, the result was much of the same for the Martlets. McGill looked a little taken aback by the power and ferocity of their opponent—as they have for much of the season—and had to play catchup from the beginning.
The first two sets finished an uninspired 25-21, 25-20. The lone bright spot arose in the third, when McGill took it to Laval on the backs of Plante and rookies Catherine Amyot, and Ashley Norfleet. It was the first time in the match that the Martlets did not seem intimidated by the size of their opponents. The Martlets built a lead, but a few unforced hitting errors gave the Rougeet- Or enough momentum to tie the game at 24 and ultimately come out victorious 27-25.
With no chance to replicate last year’s stunning bronze medal at Nationals last year, this season was undoubtedly a rebuilding year for the Martlets. Several starters from last year’s squad were lost to graduation, while 2012 Libero-of-the-Year, and Team Canada member, Daphnée André-Morin was absent the whole season with a knee injury. Morin’s absence left a gaping hole in the Martlet defence—one they failed to fill all year.
To add to this, while McGill was battered and inexperienced, the three other members of the league were really hitting their strides, each ranking in the CIS top 10, and making the RSEQ arguably the most competitive league in the country.
The Martlets battled with the weapons they had, and Head Coach Rachèle Béliveau did well in fostering the development of the freshmen, who were adjusting from the slower CEGEP—or high school— game to the more physical and powerful CIS volleyball level.
Development will be crucial next year as André-Morin returns, and the team looks to be competitive once again. The one question mark looming on the horizon is the loss of Mansure, who has been the lone setter for the last four years of Martlet volleyball. Converted right-side hitter Marie-Christine Lapointe has played setter in the past, but never consistently at the CIS level, and listed sophomore setter Yasmeen Dawoodjee has failed to make her mark in the CIS game. This void will need to be addressed as the team moves forward to next season.
Although the CIS sanctioned competition is over for the year, Mc- Gill still has a series of upcoming exhibition tournaments, giving them an even greater opportunity to gel. Those tournaments compose the illustrious “Coupe du Québec,” which starts in March and runs through April.