By Josh Beneteau
The Ryerson women’s volleyball team (2-0) followed up its upset against the nationally ranked U of T Varsity Blues in the home opener with a decisive three-set win over the Waterloo Warriors last Friday. And the team believes its strong start shouldn’t be seen as a fluke.
“We definitely expect to make [the] playoffs this year,” says second-year outside hitter Emily Nicholishen.
The women’s volleyball program has struggled in recent years, missing out on postseason play since 2006.
Two seasons ago, they could barely field a team after being devastated by injuries and finished with only one win. And closing the season with four straight losses cost them a playoff spot last year, but the team did improve to six victories.
“Our hope for this year is to continue the trend,” said head coach Dustin Reid.
An influx of talent is largely responsible for the program’s turnaround.
Last season the Rams were given a big boost with the additions of Nicholishen and middle blocker Chelsea Briscoe. Both were named to the OUA all-rookie team, and Briscoe was named the OUA rookie of the year.
“Because we were a young team, they were counted on to play big minutes,” Reid says. “We are hoping for more of the same this year.” Briscoe and Nicholishen spent last summer training and playing with Team Ontario at the National Team Challenge Cup in Winnipeg, where they picked up silver medals.
“Playing on Team Ontario with Chelsea was definitely an amazing experience that helped us both grow as players,” says Nicholishen. “We had the opportunity to train with an elite coaching staff, as well as compete with some of the nation’s best.”
With 12 of 17 players in their first two years with the team, the Rams have their core for the future.
“[Having a young team] has gotten us into the mindset that we are going to be playing together for the next two years,” says first-year outside hitter Veronica Livingston. “We are becoming team-oriented and it’s good to start fresh.”
The Rams head to Kingston this weekend to take on the Queen’s Gaels and RMC Paladins.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season,” says Nicholishen.
“With a little bit of time, we’ll be able to set the bar for each other, which will help us become an elite team.”