She wore the No. 1 because she’s tall and lanky.
Head Coach Tim Louks says that when some recruits ask to play for Mac, one of the first things he asks them is, “Can you block like Taylor Brisebois?”
The six-foot-two middle has been a staple for McMaster volleyball since arriving on campus in Fall 2011.
A product of The Hill Academy — a prep school located in Vaughan, ON — Brisebois’ decision to go maroon was an easy one. Former McMaster Volleyball player Emily Dennis played club volleyball with Brisebois with the Aurora Storm and played a big role in getting her to commit to Mac. Brisebois received offers from Toronto and Queen’s, but didn’t even take her visits because she was so sold on Mac.
Brisebois played in 85 matches over her five-year career, steadily improving as time went on. She has been team captain for the past two seasons.
“I was lucky enough to start in my first year, but I really broke out in my third year. I really peaked in my fourth and fifth years, though,” said Brisebois.
The numbers back her up.
In her fourth year with McMaster she tallied 135 kills in 19 matches, a respectable .285 hitting percentage and 68 blocks. This season, in her fifth and final year, Brisebois racked up 154 kills in 19 matches, a steady .283 hitting percentage and 54 blocks. She averaged 3.5 points per set and accounted for 82 digs — both career highs. Brisebois has been named to OUA All Star teams four out of her five seasons here making Second Team in 2016 and 2014, First Team in 2015, and All-Rookie Team in 2012. She made two appearances at CIS Nationals in 2012 and 2014 and won an OUA banner in 2014.
Louks has had a huge impact on her.
“He has always had a lot of faith in me. That has enabled me to take risks. He trusts me. If I make an error, I know he won’t just take me off. He trusts me to figure things out,” Brisebois said.
Her easygoing personality and love for both the game and the people around her make her presence that much easier to miss. One distinctive quality about her is her happy-go-lucky persona on the court that shouldn’t be mistaken for carelessness. Rather, it magnifies a quality she admires in herself.
“When I make mistakes I’ll think about it and try and make the next play better, but I’m not going to let it shut me down. My defense mechanism when I make mistakes is to kind of laugh it off,” said Brisebois. “Others will look at me and think that I’m not taking it seriously. I like that about myself, but others might not.”
A career moment that stands out to her comes from McMaster’s OUA bronze medal loss against Western earlier this month.
“I really felt like I shut down Kelsey Veltman in the fifth set. That was really fun,” said Brisebois.
Fellow graduating captain Lauren Mastroluisi knows how good her teammate is.
“I’ve seen Taylor transform into one of the best middles in the OUA,” said Mastroluisi. “I’m so proud of her.”
Brisebois’ volleyball inspiration came from former Marauder Shannon McRobert and current teammate Maicee Sorensen.
“I looked up to Shannon in my first and second year and then Maicee for the rest. They both shaped the way I played volleyball and were great leaders,” Brisebois said.
“When I make mistakes I’ll think about it and try and make the next play better, but I’m not going to let it shut me down.”
Sorensen thinks very highly of her graduating teammate.
“Taylor doesn’t know this, but I’ve been watching her play long before I came to Mac. She was the player I wanted to be. She has set the standards around here really high, whether it has to do with volleyball itself, or just being a great person,” said Sorensen. “I hope that when my time here comes to an end I can leave half the mark she has.”
Second-year outside middle Ina Onat will miss her teammate dearly.
“Taylor is the most positive and encouraging person I know. She made it her goal to cultivate our team into a positive and inclusive space and that is what it is today,” said Onat. “Her love and commitment to our team has been unconditional. Taylor has definitely left her mark on each one of us and we will miss her very much.”
It’s not easy to replace someone like her.
Brisebois will graduate with a double major in Sociology and Labour Studies. She wants to possibly pursue a career in Human Resources and is open to possibly coaching boys’ volleyball in the future. Playing professional volleyball is another option, but she is very home and family-oriented so that’s not her priority.
Thinking about the future is scary, but for the moment she’s enjoying her last few weeks at the school that became her home the past half-decade.
“You kind of feel like a celebrity playing volleyball at Mac. You get interviews and pictures taken of you. Kids and teams come in to watch you play,” said Brisebois. “You’re kind of put on a high pedestal so you want to do well and represent your school and community. I’ll miss that stage. I fell more and more in love with Mac as the years went on.”
Photo Credit: Yousif Haddad