MONTREAL – Victoria Iannotti of St. Laurent, Que., paced No. 10-ranked McGill to a stunning 3-0 sweep over the UQAM Citadins in a key women’s volleyball confrontation at the Centre Sportif de l’UQAM, Sunday. The set scores were 25-16, 25-13 and 25-18 in a match that took only 67 minutes to play.
The result extended McGill’s win streak to four, improved the team’s record to 13-5 and cemented the Martlets into a three-way tie atop the league standings with Montreal (13-4) and Sherbrooke (13-6). Laval sits one game in arrears at 12-7. With only three games remaining, the Martlets have not yet clinched a playoff berth and could still finish anywhere from first to fifth in the wild and crazy eight-team RSEQ conference.
McGill’s victory also avenged an equally shocking 3-1 loss at UQAM on Jan. 21. Combined with a 3-2 win over the Citadins on Nov. 17, McGill has won the season series with the defending conference champs, who swept the Martlets in the RSEQ championship series last spring and prevailed again in the subsequent meeting at the Nationals in Vancouver, B.C.
McGill registered a stellar 30 per cent hitting efficiency with 29 kills and only eight errors on 70 total attempts. At the opposite end of the spectrum, was UQAM’s feeble 8.2 per cent. The Citadins had 30 kills on 97 attempts that was offset by a whooping 22 errors.
Iannotti scored her points on eight kills, four aces and a pair of assisted blocks. She added nine digs.
“We had one really long rally in the second set that we won and I think that had an impact on UQAM,” said a very pleased McGill head coach Rachele Beliveau, whose troops registered seven aces and only had seven serving errors, compared to UQAM’s three aces and 13 errors. “We served really well, which affected their passing ability and forced UQAM to hit balls out of their system. Our (placement) often forced their setter to run away from the net (to retrieve the ball). We played well both offensively and defensively.
“We came prepared to push hard, pressure them and have a good and long fight but we were so sharp that it was a faster game than we expected. When you have the momentum and flow and everything is going well, its always easier. We really played well as a team, everyone was ready and in the game. Honestly, I only made one substitution for serving and didn’t take any time-outs because I didn’t want to break our flow and momentum.”
The only sub that was made was 5-foot-10 power-hitter Rio Pesochin, a management junior from Vancouver, B.C., who took over for sophomore Rachel Leduc and immediately produced, collecting three aces on five serves with just one serving error.
“She served so well that it gave us momentum and broke theirs,” noted Beliveau. “It gave us more confidence.”
The Martlets had a lopsided 10-0 margin in stuff blocks, a 7-3 edge in aces and a 40-30 upper-hand in digs.
Other leading scorers for McGill were Clara Poire (9 pts, 11 digs), Charlene Robitaille (8 pts, 6 digs) and Rachel Leduc (7 pts, 1 dig). Veteran Audrey Trottier started at setter and went the distance, collecting 21 assists in three sets.
Sabrina Mayer paced the Citadins with 13 points and five digs. UQAM, which dropped to 10-8, is tied for fifth place with Ottawa (10-8) and both teams trail Laval (12-7) by two wins in the fight for the final playoff berth.
“It’s fun to see that when we play as a team, collectively with everyone involved, how good we can be,” added Beliveau. “The challenge is to repeat that every day.”
McGill, which has won eight of its last nine contests, will travel to Trois-Rivieres to play seventh-place UQTR (2-16) on Feb. 9, before returning home to the friendly confines of Love Competition Hall to close out the regular season against Ottawa (Feb. 11) and Montreal (Feb. 18).
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