By Josh Wingrove
The women’s volleyball team clinched a playoff berth with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 26-24) victory over Queen’s University.
Ryerson’s win ensured the Rams a playoff spot and sent Queen’s home for the season. “I thought the girls did a great job,” said head coach Arif Nathoo. “This was a big emotional win for these girls.”
Ryerson beat Queen’s in what was the last home game for graduating team captain Lauren Sally. The team presented Sally with a volleyball, signed with messages from all the players to the girl they call “Xena.” “It was very emotional, it didn’t hit me until after the game finished,” Sally said. The captain said that she thinks the team’s strong play will continue into next season, despite her absence.
“I think they’re going to do super well. I don’t think I’m going to be missed at all. Seriously. I’m dead-serious,” Sally said.
Nathoo was proud of the girls effort, and said their play as a team is what got the win. “It’s all about the team. They’re all leaders, and they’re all playing well. They’re all playing for each other,” Nathoo said. “That’s what team is all about. I’m so proud to see them doing that. I’m very happy.”
The team goes into the playoffs having won seven of their last eight games. The streak gives both Nathoo and his team confidence against their next opponent, top-ranked York University.
The Rams beat the team 3-2 (25-22, 25-22, 14-25, 19-25, 15-11) Friday night. “They know they can beat York. (Friday) they didn’t play well and they still beat them,” Nathoo said. Ljiljana Markovic led the Rams with 12 kills against York that night. “We’re the hottest team right now, and I think other teams are starting to take notice,” Nathoo said. “I think we’re a dark horse.” “If we didn’t win this game, we weren’t going to playoffs. Everybody had said this year that our goal was to make playoffs,” Sally said. “We’re not going to finish just here,” Nathoo said.
The last time he led his team to the playoffs from a low ranking, they reached the national championships in Quebec City. “We still have a bigger goal. We want to make the final four.”
“When playoffs come down to it, it’s whichever team wants it more,” added Sally, the only player left from the team’s last trip to the nationals. “We’ve been building for the past three years and it’s nice to see some kind of success.”