Struggling squad sees relief, downs Laval in five sets
It was an afternoon of jumping and diving on Sunday, Nov. 25 at Montpetit Hall as the University of Ottawa women’s volleyball team took on the Laval Rouge et Or in the second game of a weekend series.
Coming in, the Gee-Gees had dropped Saturday, Nov 24’s affair 3-1, and therefore entered the Sunday game with a league-worst 0-8 record. They were vying for their first win of the season, while the Rouge et Or looked to improve to 7-3, and take second place in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec (RSEQ) conference.
Things started off well in the first set for the Gee-Gees, leading at times by three and others by four until the 20-point mark, when Laval managed to level the set at 23.
The Gees got a little luck and from there, the team smashed their way to a 25th point thanks to Caroline Lemay and company, winning the set 25-23 and taking a 1-0 lead in the game.
As much as the first set was a bright spot for the struggling Gee-Gees team, the second was a call back to reality, with Laval winning pretty much every difficult back-and-forth, coming out on top 25-18.
The third set was highly disputed—both teams exchanged leads multiple times but in the end, the Gee-Gees pulled through 25-21, thanks to big blocks from centre Dana Bulloch and smashes from Rachel Powell, taking a 2-1 lead after three sets.
This was only the second time this season the U of O has held a lead after the third set.
The fourth set was eerily similar to the second for the Gees, who never led and ended up losing it 25-21.
In spite of the loss of the set, the Garnet and Grey saw good performances from Niève Séguin and Sabrina Roy. With the game tied up at two, the crowd at Montpetit Hall got to experience a fifth set of volleyball for the first time this season.
The ultimate set started out with the Gees taking an early lead, and they carried that all the way through the tenth point, taking advantage of several Laval mistakes to take the set 15-11 on a Lemay smash, winning their first game of the season.
Following his team’s big win, head coach Lionel Woods commended the Gees’ performance.
‘’We’ve been as good as every team we’ve played, and if you look at every match one-by-one, it’s very toe-to-toe, and we come out on the back end of it,” Woods said. “I think we keep saying to ourselves, ‘we just weren’t ready to win yet,’ and today they put way more things together all at the same time for a longer period, and we found a win.’’
Captain Bulloch, who had a team-leading 21 kills against Laval and after the game, was understandably excited to have gotten rid of the monkey on her squad’s back.
“It’s hard to start a season like that and explain to people the progress we’ve been making when all you have are losses,” Bulloch said. “We’ve just been working so hard to finally see everything come together. I couldn’t be so proud of them and hopefully, it’s just the beginning.”
The Gees ended the winter semester with a 3-0 loss against the Sherbrooke Vert et Or, finishing 2018 with a record of 1-9. Catch them in the new year as they take on the McGill Martlets on Jan. 11, and return home on Jan. 24 vs the Université du Québec à Montréal. Grab tickets here.