By William Brown
Last year, Ryerson’s women’s volleyball team had only one player with playoff experience.
Now, following a lengthy play- off run that saw them place fourth in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) Final Four, head coach Dustin Reid has no doubt that his new veteran team is poised for an- other championship run.
“We think we’re a more talented team than we were last year,” said Reid. “We want to get back to the Final Four and compete for a championship.”
As one of Ryerson’s most successful teams — they placed third in their division and made it to the OUA Final Four for the first time in school history — the Rams are ready to face the new pressures of living up to and exceeding last year’s success.
“We have acknowledged that there is pressure to do well this season, but that’s not going to take us where we want,” said fifth-year outside hitter Chelsea Jensen. “Take one game at a time and do our best in those and the rest will work itself out.”
Unlike past seasons, the Rams will face stiff competition as the OUA’s recent realignment has landed them in a division with all of last year’s Final Four teams— the York Lions, the Toronto Varsi- ty Blues and the Ottawa Gee-Gees.
“It will definitely make it harder to reach the Final Four,” said third-year libero Krystyna Ng. “It all comes down to who plays bet- ter the day of competition.”
This season, the Rams return to the court with their core group of Jensen, Chelsea Briscoe, Veronica Livingston and Emily Nicholishen all returning to the court after fuelling much of last season’s success.
Briscoe and Livingston placed fourteenth and fifteenth in points per game average last season while Jensen and Nicholishen both placed in the league’s top 25.
In addition to their veteran core, the Rams expect newcomers Emily Betteridge and Kristina Vicek to make an immediate impact in their first year with the team.
Vicek, a recent York University graduate, brings a wealth of experience to the team after three years of OUA volleyball for the Lions.
“Vicek is the oldest and most ex- perienced newcomer,” says Jensen. “She adds intensity and focus to our team atmosphere, which will contribute to our success.”
Betteridge, a transfer from Syracuse University, brings much need- ed passion and enthusiasm to the court despite not being eligible to play in a league game until Nov. 14.
In spite of their undoubtedly high expectations, the Rams are hungry to prove that last season’s success was no fluke. “I really want a gold medal,” said Livingston.
“Personally I feel the only pressure is the pressure we put on our- selves and I know a lot of the girls feel the same way.”