By Noah Love
Some Ryerson teams play with determination to win. Others need luck. This season the women’s volleyball team will use talent.
The Rams hosted a five team exhibition tournament in the Kerr Gym this weekend. Ryerson placed fourth after losing 3-1 (25-16, 25-19, 21-25, 25-22) to the University of Toronto Blues on Sunday morning.
Seventh-year coach Arif Nathoo was not entirely please with his team’s performance, but said there is no shortage of potential on the squad.
“The girls saw what it takes to win this weekend,” said Nathoo, following the loss to the Blues. “We have a lot of talent, but now it’s time to do the little things.”
The little things include passing and defense, which both Nathoo and his players criticized after the tournament.
“I think our passing has to get a little bit better,” Nathoo said. “I think we have good passers, we just need more consistency. Right now our offense is our greatest strength. Unfortunately for the offense to succeed, the defense has to be tight so we can get the ball up. But we can teach good defense.”
Last year’s team was 8-10 in OUA league play and 20-17 overall. The 2000-01 season ended with a loss to eventual OUA champions, the University of Toronto, in the first round of the OUA east playoffs.
Team captain Liz Reid said the team, which lost fourth-year starters Carly Price and Kate Streib to graduation, is still getting used to playing together.
“It’s getting better step by step,” she said after the teams’ only win of the tournament, a 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 27-25, 25-16) victory against the McMaster Marauders. “We were rusty in our first match, and you could see we didn’t have same game experience. Things are getting better game by game.”
Ryerson posted one win and four losses in the tournament, which was won by the powerhouse York University. The Yeowomen defeated the Sir Wilfred Laurier Golden Hawks 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-13) on Sunday afternoon to capture the gold. Nathoo said his team will have to work harder to beat the best in Ontario.
“I think if we’re playing up to our potential we can beat U of T and York,” he said. “They’re the top teams in our division. If you beat those two, you’re the best in the province. Right now we could beat U of T, we’ll have to work a harder to beat York.”
Tisha Rouse, a second-year arts student and the team’s setter, isn’t particularly worried about the first results of the pre-season.
“We can win the OUA and I’m expecting to play at the nationals this year,” she said. “I expect to see us get a lot better, whereas other teams might get a bit better.”
Nathoo said his team must not let down against weaker teams, which was one of their weaknesses last season.
“To make the playoffs we have to beat the teams that are below us, something we’ve struggled with in the past,” said Nathoo. “The girls have to get it in their heads that those teams can’t compete with us.”
The coaching staff will also be counting on new players in the Rams’ starting lineup to replace the leadership and experience of Streib and Price.
“Ainsley Martinez earned a starting spot this year and we expect her to show us confidence on the court,” he said. “Stephanie Brown, who we recruited [from] Queen’s, needs to step up in the middle where we’re a bit weak right now.”
The Rams have plenty of time to work out the kinks in their performance. They will play a tournament in Winnipeg this weekend, and then another at York the week before the season-opener against the University of Windsor on Oct. 26.