By Sarah Cunningham-Scharf
Theanna Vernon is one of the starting middle blockers on the Ryerson women’s volleyball team and is also leading the country in hitting proficiency — and she’s only a rookie.
“The fact that I got the opportunity to [start] and the fact that my team’s there behind me making sure I can do well is great for me. But I was quite surprised,” said the 6-foot tall Scarborough native.
After the Rams’ first five matches, Vernon has logged 36 kills, three errors and an average of 2.40 kills per set. She’s leading the country with a hitting percentage of .465, the second best is .406.
“The biggest thing about her game is when the moments are the most important, she doesn’t shy away, she gets more aggressive,” women’s volleyball coach Dustin Reid said. “That’s a really unique ability.”
Vernon, 19, began playing competitive rep volleyball for the Toronto Diamonds when she was in Grade 9.
“I fell in love with it because I finally felt like I was dominant in a certain sport. It was natural,” she said.
Reid first watched her play when Vernon was 15 or 16 and saw the potential.
“She was really raw, but you knew early on she was going to have the talent to be a good player,” he said. “She’s made great improvements but I think she’s just scratching the surface of what she can become.”
In Grade 11, Vernon made a commitment to play in the NCAA. When she decided she wanted to be closer to home, Reid took the opportunity to recruit her.
“She could have played anywhere she wanted to from a volleyball standpoint. I think we’ve been fortunate and I think it’s a good fit for both sides,” Reid said.
Last year, Vernon was a red shirt — or practice player — for the Rams.
In terms of her decision to join the Rams, Vernon said, “I’m a family girl, and the fact that I get to see my family every day [and] they get to see me play [is] what did it for me. Ryerson’s a good school. I’m in a great program. I love my coach and my team.”
As the only first-year starter for the Rams, Vernon said she’s a team player and wants to continue contributing to the success of the Rams.
“If that means I have to sit on the bench for a game or two so other people can play it’s fine with me. But of course … if I can be on the court to do better for my team that’s all I want to do.”
Reid is looking forward to working with Vernon for the next four years.
“[When you look at] the type of player that she can develop into when she puts in the hard work, she has potential to be one of the top players in the
country,” he said.