Underdog women’s volleyball upset champs

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By Sam Rashid

The women’s volleyball team have always believed in themselves, but you can hardly blame them for being a little stunned when they upset last year’s OUA champions on Friday night.

“I am speechless,” said third-year setter Haley Wolfendan. “I feel like we just made … Ryerson history.” The team sailed to an easy homeopener victory with a convincing 3-1 win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

The Blues have fallen a long way from last season’s heady heights. They have yet to win a game so far this season, going 0-4.

Ryerson’s Carli Yim helped her team pull off the victory (25-18, 25- 17, 15-25, 25-15) with 11 kills while Wolfendan chipped in with a gamehigh 24 assists.

“Tonight we were nervous and it turned into positive energy for us,” said head coach Dustin Reid. “I’m really happy with how we competed and how we played as a team.”

For the first two sets, the Rams were simply dominating the Blues with kills, blocks and great teamwork.

But during the third set, the Rams were completely out to lunch. They had lost their composure and the Blues began clawing back. The Rams made several mental errors like misjudging serves that cost them the set.

“We hadn’t been in a position like that before, where we had a chance to win a match against a really great, traditional program,” Reid said. “We were thinking about wanting to win than wanting to play well.”

But when the fourth set rolled around, the Rams snapped out of their funk and played exceptionally well. The fourth set ended like the last one had with a 25-15 score, only this time it was the Rams on the giving end.

“We were able to come out with the confidence after losing two games [last weekend] and beat the team that’s been number one in our division for … years,” Wolfendan said.

Consistency played a huge role in the victory for the Rams.

“All of our hitters were very consistent,” Reid said. “That’s something we’ve really been working on.”

Another aspect of the game that the Rams have been battling through is lack of experience. Several fourthand fifth-year players graduated last season, leaving the team largely in the hands of six rookies.

“It’s important for the [players] to know, and for people who are supporters of our team to know, this is a process,” Reid said. “Down the road … we want to be a great program.”

The small roster of players will need to find consistency if they hope to improve.

“I’m really confident that this group of girls that we have, we’re all going to grow together,” Yim said.

Specifically, Reid is looking to Yim and Wolfendan to be the leaders of the team.

“They’re growing into those positions and it’s something new for them,” Reid said. “And they’re both working very hard and I’m very happy and proud of what they’ve done so far.”

On Saturday, the Rams begin a three-game homestand when they take on Ottawa in the Kerr Hall Gym. Last season the Rams finished fourth in their division and missed the playoffs thanks to a tiebreaker with the Ottawa Gee Gees.

If they can keep their momentum from the home opener, they’ll stand a good chance of literally serving Ottawa some payback.

Photo: Lindsay Boeckl

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