By Jackie McGale
If cruising to the Canadian Interuniversity Sports Championship was difficult the first time around for the Ryerson women’s volleyball team, a sequel could be mission impossible.
Last year the Rams became the second team in Ryerson Athletics history to advance to a national tournament, but have lost six players from that squad, including 2001-02 Ryerson female athlete of the year Elizabeth Reid and Ontario University Athletics all-star Jacquie Fler.
Women’s volleyball head coach Arif Nathoo was pleased with the results of last season, but realized that it wouldn’t be fair to expect a repeat.
“This season I have a totally different team,” says Nathoo. “The team I had last year [had been] together for three years.”
This year’s roster includes nine new faces and only four returning players.
“The new girls that I have this year have the talent to play a lot of positions,” says Nathoo. “My theory is still the same, we still got to work on defense.”
Nathoo is high on his rookies, but says they’ll need to improve on digging for balls and cutting down on mistakes to earn playing time.
First-year player, Lauren Fraser, says she will not be shying away from the high expectations following the Rams CIS championship appearance last season.
“[Ryerson] expects more from us, but it kind of gives us more hope,” says Fraser. “We know that we can get there now.”
Team captain and second-year student Lauren Sally says she plans to “lead by example” to ensure the bumpy road from high school to university competition is smooth for her new teammates.
Last year’s success was extra sweet for Nathoo because the Rams playoff run included eliminating city rival York University.
“It was exhilarating,” says Nathoo, whose squad lost to the Yeowomen this weekend in three straight uneventful sets. “York is the powerhouse [of women’s] volleyball, so when you have the chance to beat them, then obviously the feeling is good.”