By Steve Petrick
When Kate Streib and Carly Price graduate this spring they’ll leave Ryerson with four years of volleyball memories — good ones and bad ones.
The good ones: leading the Rams to a top-four finish in the OUA East division and earning a spot in the playoffs the past two seasons.
One of the bad ones: the quick 3-0 loss to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues in the division semifinal game on Feb. 15.
The loss to the eventual provincial champions, by scores of 25-22, 25-20 and 25-10, wasn’t a fitting way for two of the team’s best players to end their varsity careers. Both players were in tears after the game.
“It’s a happy-sad because this is the second time we’ve made it to the playoffs,” Streib said after the game. “It’s great to come this far. But it’s also a sad-sad because it’s disappointing we let the match go like that. The first two games could have gone either way. The last game was shit — for lack of a better word.”
The Rams went into the match fresh off a win against the University of Ottawa, which gave them third place and an 8-9 regular-season record. The intensity of that win must have spilled over into the first game against U of T, as the always-dominant Blues, who finished in second, at 14-3, couldn’t shut down the Rams easily. The game was ties at 10, 17 and 20, before the host Blues went on a 5-2 scoring run to clinch the win.
Ryerson began to fade in the second game. After trailing early, former U of T player and OUA first-team all-star power Jacquie Fler used a forceful spike to bring the Rams within one point to 7-6. But that’s as close as they came in the game.
It was evident the Rams’ season was coming to an end when the Blues’ second-team all-star hitter Sara Pothaar scored three straight kills to start the third game.
“That game was sort of like our whole season — very inconsistent,” Rams coach Arif Nathoo said. “Within the games we were very inconsistent and within the matches we were very inconsistent. It comes down to having experienced players, which we don’t have right now.”
That won’t be as much of a problem next year. Although Streib and Price are graduating, all other players are eligible to return next season, including Fler, second-team all-star power Elizabeth Reid and middle Marijana Curic, who was a second-team all-star in 2000. Next year’s roster could have as many as seven players who have been on the team the past two playoff seasons.
“We have a good building block and we have a good group of young players who now have [some] experience,” said Nathoo, who replaced starters Reid and Streib late in the third game to give lesser-used players Kate Sleeman and Alexis Patel a chance to become accustomed to the playoff intensity.
Although this year’s postseason experience was brief — the game lasted just 75 minutes — Ryerson played in playoff conditions for most of the second half of the year.
After losing four of their first five games, the Rams came through in several must-win situations to achieve their goal of finishing in third place, behind U of T and York.
“I won’t focus on this game as my fondest memory,” Streib said. “Instead I’ll focus on the entire season. We had a great season. This team’s going to improve. I’m excited for them next year.”