(Martlets pose with bronze medals at CIS championship. Photo by Jay Rautins, courtesy McMaster University)
HAMILTON, Ont. -- A funny thing happened on the way to the forum. The unheralded and fifth-seeded McGill Martlets were led onto a national stage to do battle with the lions, a ferocious foe that had devoured McGill 29 times in the previous 31 confrontations. In the end, however, McGill came away with an astonishing 3-1 upset over the Quebec champion and No.3-seed Montreal Carabins to capture a bronze medal at the CIS women's volleyball championship, their first-ever CIS podium finish, Sunday afternoon at McMaster University's Burridge Gymnasium.
The set scores were 25-22, 13-25, 25-23 and 25-15.
"We just tried to play one ball at a time, one rally at a time. Every player played incredible today," said Rachèle Béliveau, a former Olympian now in her 21st season as head coach at McGill. "Patience, teamwork and hard work were key today. It was a hard time coming for us. All the credit goes to the girls. They never stopped believing."
The surprising victory put an exclamation point on an improbable playoff run for McGill.
Following a sub-par 5-10 regular season, the Martlets booked their ticket to the national tournament by upsetting Laval, the CIS silver medal winners last year, in the Quebec conference semifinals. After being swept by Montreal in the best-of-three conference final, McGill knocked off No. 4 Saint Mary's in five sets in their CIS championship opener on Friday to advance to the Final Four, where they lost 3-0 to top-seeded Alberta.
"We knew coming here that we could play this level of competition because we play (Laval and Montreal almost) every weekend, so our regular season record does not really reflect what our team looks like because we play the best teams all the time," said Béliveau, who now owns a 452-422-2 overall record behind the McGill bench, including a 23-20 mark this season. "We were focused on what we had to do and we completed one of our goals. I'm happy that we finished with a good ending and I'm happy to beat Montreal. The last win is the one that counts the most so I'm very happy."
Fifteen years ago, in their only previous CIS championship appearance, the Martlets finished sixth with a 1-2 mark.
For its part, Montreal had started the tournament with an impressive 3-1 win over Trinity Western on Friday before dropping a four-set decision to defending national champion UBC in Saturday's semis. The omnipotent Carabins had dominated McGill during the season and ended up winning seven of 10 meetings overall, including 3-1 and 3-0 decisions in the RSEQ league championship series.
McGill sophomore Geneviève Plante, a 5-foot-9 power hitter from Montreal, scored a game-high 11 kills to go along with 12 digs and a stuff block. A 21-year-old science sophomore who majors in kinesiology, she was named to the CIS all-tournament team. In 12 sets over the tourney, Plante racked up 37 total points on 36 kills and a stuff block. On defence, she also had 38 digs, and three assists.
Teammate Marie-Christine Lapointe, a sophomore from St. Jean sur Richelieu, Que., added 15 digs, 10 kills, and three assisted blocks. All-Canadian Kaiva Mateus, a senior middle blocker from Montreal West, contributed eight kills, eight digs, four assisted stuff blocks and one ace.
Marcela Mansure, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was named as McGill's player of the match. The 5-foot-7 setter recorded a game-high 35 assists and was elated with her team's result.
"We worked so hard during the entire season and we fought a lot to get here," said Mansure, a 25-year-old occupational therapy senior who also had 15 digs and one kill. "The good thing about being the underdogs is that we didn't have the pressure. It was really hard to get here and we knew about our potential and know how it feels to play as a team. If everyone (on our team) thinks (the other side is) going to win then we can't win, but we believed in ourselves and it paid off."
For the Carabins, their fourth-place finish is a step-up from last year's fifth place standing.
"The girls came up short in this game because they fought for the gold medal in the previous two games and they lacked energy in this one," said head coach Olivier Trudel. "We came out flat with no emotion. maybe we were scared. Not enough skills, not enough anger... We're really disappointed."
Marie-Sophie Nadeau was once again the top Carabins hitter with 10 kills and Pamela Drapeau was named Montreal's player of the game for her 14 points on nine kills and five blocks.
The Carabins led through most of the first set until McGill to tied it up at 18-18 and from there it was a see-saw battle between the bitter RSEQ rivals, finishing in a 25-22 decision for McGill.
The Carabins redeemed themselves by winning the next set 25-13 to even the score at 1-1. In the third set, Montreal jumped in front but McGill roared back with a 15-2 run to win 25-23, taking a 2-1 advantage in games. In the final set, the Martlets led from start to finish en route to a 25-15 decision.
McGill overcame a 5-10 regular season record in the tough Quebec conference to finish with a 23-20 record overall. The Martlets upset Laval, the defending CIS silver medalist, 3-2 in the RSEQ semifinals to qualify for the CIS national championship for the first time since 1997.
Championship web site: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wvball/index
Athletics & Recreation
Kills: Geneviève Plante (11), Marie Lapointe (10)
Points: Marie Lapointe (11.5), Geneviève Plante (11)Blocks: Jacquline Ng (2)
Digs: Daphnée-Maude André-Morin (16), Marcela Mansure (15)
Service aces: Jacqueline Ng (2)
Assists: Marcela Mansure (35)
Player of the match: Marcela Mansure
Kills: Marie-Sophie Nadeau (10), Paméla Drapeau (9)
Points: Paméla Drapeau (14)
Blocks: Paméla Drapeau (5)
Digs: Emmanuelle Marin (13), Paméla Drapeau (12)
Service aces: Sophie Bergeron-Leblanc (4)
Assists: Maude Ménard-Ouellette (30)
Player of the match: Pamela Drapeau
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS
Tournament MVP: Lisa Barclay, UBC
R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Briana Liau Ken, UBC
Lisa Barclay, UBC
Shanice Marcelle, UBC
Brina Derksen-Bergen, UBC
Alena Omelchenko, Alberta
Jaki Ellis, Alberta
Geneviève Plante, McGill
Marie-Sophie Nadeau, Montreal
CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS
NOTE: Live webcast of all games on SSN Canada.
NOTE: Live broadcast of championship semifinals and Sunday games on Cable 14 (Hamilton).
Friday, March 2
13:00 Quarter-final #1: Montreal 3, Trinity Western 1 (25-22, 11-25, 25-21, 25-23)
15:00 Quarter-final #2: UBC 3, Queen's 0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-16)
18:00 Quarter-final #3: McGill 3, Saint Mary's 2 (26-24, 25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 15-13)
20:00 Quarter-final #4: Alberta 3, McMaster 1 (25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-18)
Saturday, March 3
13:00 Consolation #1: Trinity Western 3, Queen's 0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-23)
15:00 Consolation #2: Saint Mary's 3, McMaster 2 (24-26, 14-25, 25-9, 25-21, 15-7)
18:00 Semifinal #1: UBC 3, Montreal 1 (25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22)
20:00 Semifinal #2: Alberta 3, McGill 0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-23)
Sunday, March 4
11:00 5th place: Trinity Western 3, Saint Mary's 1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20)
13:00 Bronze medal: McGill 3, Montreal 1 (25-22, 13-25, 25-23, 25-15)
16:00 Championship final: UBC 3, Alberta 1 (25-21, 15-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12)
MCGILL at. MONTREAL
@ Hamilton Ontario (Burridge Gymnasium)
3/4/2012 at 3:00pm
|BRONZE MEDAL MATCH||1||2||3||4||Score|
|-- Attack --||-- Serve --||-- Block --|
|2||Daphnée-Maude André-Morin *||4||0||0||0||.000||2||0||0||0||16||0||0||0||0||0.0|
|-- Attack --||-- Serve --||-- Block --|
* = Libero