By Michael Isenberg
The memory of defeat from a year ago was nowhere in sight.
After losing to the Queen’s Golden Gaels in last season’s Ontario University Athletics (OUA) playoff finals, the Rams hosted the Queen’s side for the first time last weekend since.
Trying to start anew, the Ryerson Rams men’s volleyball team began the 2006-2007 season on a better note than it finished the year before, reeling off seven consecutive victories.
And when it came time to facing their biggest challenge of the year, the Rams replaced the old memories as they beat the Gaels on Sunday, three sets to two, becoming the lone undefeated team in the OUA.
“It was a huge win for us,” said coach Mirek Porosa. “We were not thinking about last year. This is a new season and we started fresh.”
The first regular season meeting between the teams featured a playoff-like atmosphere, with both teams having undefeated records.
But it was the intensity of the game that made it feel like the finals. Needing a decisive fifth set for the win, the Rams (8-0), were head-to-head with Queen’s (8-1). They matched each other point-for-point for the first four points in all five sets, including nine straight to start the second set.
The Rams started the game strong, trailing only once in the first set 21-20, eventually taking it 25-21, in which their lead was never more than four points.
The second set was dominated by Queen’s which took the set by eight points, 25-17.
A mild 3-point rally at the end of the second set parked life into Ryerson as it won the third set by nine, 25-16.
“We knew we just had to be patient, stay focused and play our style of volleyball,” said libero Lukas Porosa. “Coach discussed four key points of play, the two big ones being thought: always thinking and making necessary adjustment, and also to keep steady heads to be aware of our surroundings.”
After losing a tough fourth set 25-23, the Rams came out with a 15-12 fifth set win, in yet another close match.
Ryan Vandenburg led the Rams with 26 kills, while Patrick Corriveau had 38 set assists.
With the win, the Rams are tied for first with Queen’s with 16 points in the OUA, and rank sixth overall in CIS standings.
But while it was a victorious day for the men, the women lost a well played game against the previously winless Gaels.
Trailing two sets to one, the Rams (3-6), found themselves down 21-11 in the fourth, seemingly inclined for the loss. But an 11 point run saw the Rams take a 22-21 lead. The rally was all for naught, though, as Queen’s (1-6), pulled through for a heartbreaking 25-23 set match, winning the game three sets to one.
“It was so emotional,” said a sombre Slobodanka Skoric. “After we lost the game after that rally, I was starting to cry. I’ve played for five years and never cried. It was that big.”
Indeed, the 11 point run by the Rams will be their motivation to rebound for their next game.
“It definitely shows that we can overcome the challenges,” said rookie Maxine Gundermann. “It was insane!”
Jennifer Williams led the Rams with 16 kills, followed by Skoric with 10. Alicia Pyke had 46 set assists.
Earlier in the weekend the men’s team faced Royal Military College (RMC) and won 3-0 mainly using their bench.
Rookie Chris McLaughlin led the Rams with nine kills and 10 points.
The Rams women’s team picked up their third win of the season over the weekend, beating the team from RMC 3-1.
Skoric led the team with 18 points while Jen Williams earned a game high 16 kills.