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By Erin Valois

It was a tough year for women’s volleyball. The team lost star captain Jennifer Williams in November, leaving a starting lineup of first and second years.

Lacking veterans, the Rams then missed the playoffs for the third time in a row. But coach Bob Chollette isn’t worried about the squad.

“We’re the only team this year in Ontario [that] at certain times in any given match, all six players on the court would be first and second-year players,” he said. “Next year will probably be my best recruiting class, I feel confident about that.”

After a 5-14 record, the Rams are now looking to a lengthy rebuilding process.

Before Chollette took over as head coach in 2005, the team was coming off a winning record of 10-9 and a trip to the OUA quarter-finals.

This year, the young team dressed a starting lineup of first and second-years — all recruited by Chollette.

With fourth-year middle Brianne Koning as the only senior player, the Rams were unable to compete with the veteran filled University of Toronto or McMaster University.

Chollette blames former coach Arif Nathoo as the reason for the team’s inexperience. “We had a team that wasn’t well recruited. Half the team weren’t even club players and they were playing against well-recruited teams,” he said. “That’s a huge problem.”

When the sports and recreation budget is released later this year, the team will also know the future of their coaching situation.

Acting athletic director Jean Kennedy says that the women’s squad could use the boost provided by the addition of a full-time coach.

“We have to wait and see if we have the money to hire a full-time coach,” Kennedy said. “Having a full-time coach changes everything — it’s necessary so we can compete with other universities.”

Former captain Williams left the team at the end of first semester, citing school as the primary reason for her sudden departure.

However, Chollette feels that her absence only improved the team. “I think the girls played better without her,” he said, “She did what was best for her and her life.”

Williams did not make herself available for comment.

The Rams may have a chance next season to break out of their slump. Cocaptains Lindsay Franco and Chelsea Blackwell will be anchoring a squad with depth.

Franco is optimistic the Rams will have a turnaround season with new additions and added experience.

“I’m really excited for next year. We have some great recruits coming in,” she said. “As captains, it’s a really good fit. Our personalities mix well and it’s a great balance.”

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