Laval ladies licked in volleyball thrilla at McGilla
MONTREAL -- Senior Virginie Hebert scored a team-high 15.5 points and freshman Emilie Matte de Grasse came off the bench to add 15 more as the McGill women's volleyball team rallied for an absolutely stunning 3-2 victory over visiting Laval at Love Competition Hall, Saturday.
The decision marked only McGill's 15th lifetime regular-season victory in 98 meetings against Laval since 1988.
After dropping the first two sets 25-21 and 25-16, a radical line-up change was implemented by McGill head coach Rachele Beliveau, which jump-started the Martlets to win the next three sets in spectacular fashion, by scores of 25-22, 27-25 and 23-21. The marathon took two hours and 13 minutes to play, some 22 minutes shy of the longest McGill game on record in a 3-2 loss at Laval on Feb. 5, 2009.
"We play each other so often that they know our starter's tendencies quite well," explained Beliveau, who has now coached 999 games overall during 24 seasons behind the Martlets bench. "So when we fell behind 2-0, we had nothing to lose and decided to mix things up. We changed our lineup completely and it really worked out well."
The starting lineup, excluding injuries, has generally included Hebert, Ashley Norfleet, Catherine Amyot, Marie-Christine Lapointe, Myriam Robitaille and setter Yasmeen Dawoodjee, along with Marjolaine Ste-Marie, who plays the libero position.
The primary beneficiaries of the lineup shuffle were Emilie Matte de Grasse of Montreal and Erika Cournoyer, both of who shone like a beacon off the bench. Matte de Grasse collected a game-high 28 digs, with 13 kills and four assisted blocks, while Cournoyer, a sophomore from Longueuil, Que., had five kills, a pair of aces, three assisted blocks and two digs.
Among the starters, Hebert posted 12 kills, one stuff block, five assisted blocks and a dig. Norfleet tallied 13 kills to go along with 14 digs. Dawoodjee, the setter, amassed 50 assists, along with 22 digs, four kills, a pair of aces and four total blocks.
The Rouge et Or held a 64-60 edge in kills and an 11-5 margin in service aces but McGill had a whopping 119 to 86 advantage in digs and outblocked Laval by a 13 to 8.5 margin.
Leaang the way for Laval was Alice Cloutier and Valerie Lemay, who posted 21 and 20 points, respectively, in a losing cause.
The result muddied the RSEQ standings and left kept McGill in a mad hunt for a playoff berth with just one weekend remaining on the schedule. The Martlets improved to 11-6 and moved into a three-way tie for second-place with Laval (11-6) and Sherbrooke (11-5). The trio sits two victories behind the division-leading Montreal Carabins (13-3).
McGill will close out their schedule next weekend with a home game against Sherbrooke on Feb. 6 (7 p.m.) and a road game at Laval on Feb. 7. Sherbrooke also has two remaining games against Montreal and Laval will also play the Carabins once. Only the top three qualify for post-season play, so stay tuned for a wild finish!