By Luke Bellus
Coming off of a three-set sweep of the Brock Badgers on Friday in St. Catharines, Ont., the Ryerson Rams were back at home on Coca-Cola Court at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Sunday, beating the Queen’s Gaels 3-1 to continue their undefeated season.
But, the Gaels didn’t give the Rams an easy win.
“It’s been a while since we have been in a really good competitive game with a good team. It took us some time to get up to speed and figure out what they were doing,” Ryerson head coach Dustin Reid said.
After dropping just seven sets in their previous 13 matches (39-7) coming into Sunday’s game, the Rams were faced with some adversity in the first set, going down 16-10 at the technical timeout. That deficit would prove too much for the Rams to overcome, dropping the set 25-20.
The Rams as a whole had a hit percentage of .194 in the first set, almost a full 100 points below their season average of .29 per cent.
With the second set tied at 21, the Rams took a timeout and proceeded to win the set 25-22. It was 23-22 in the set when the Rams received a spark from first-year libero Brooke Kucab. Kucab was subbed in to serve, getting her first action of the day. After an ace from Kucab and a kill from fourth-year middle blocker Theanna Vernon, the Rams took the set and tied the match up 1-1.
After the game, Kucab described coming off the bench for situations like the one she was in today, down a set and in a comeback position. “There definitely are some nerves, but in those situations, I just tell myself that it’s just another serve, something I’ve done thousands of times,” she said.
The Rams took the momentum from the second set win and rode it to a 16-10 lead at the third set technical timeout. A late surge from the Gaels forced a Rams timeout, but Ryerson was able to hold on and get the win 25-18.
The third set win not only gave the Rams a 2-1 set lead in the game but it improved their record in third sets to an impressive 14-0 on the season.
“We like to make adjustments in the way we play as we go through the game, and it’s possible that by the time [the third set] comes around we have a pretty good idea of what the other team is going to do,” Reid said. “It also shows that if you’re consistent and patient then your opponent could have trouble playing up to that level.”
The fourth set saw both teams trading opportunities and mistakes; it was anyone’s set when Queen’s took a timeout down 23-22. But a fifth set wasn’t needed, thanks to the service game of Theanna Vernon. She was able to come out of the timeout unfazed and served the Rams to a 25-22 set victory to end the game.
Dropping the first set proved to be no issue for the Rams, Reid said. “I was really encouraged to see the way we responded. I think it’s key that we didn’t get too frustrated or upset. We did our best to play the game the way we want to play it and today we got challenged, we needed that.”
The Rams were led by Lauren Veltman in kills (18), Alicia Lam in assists (48) and Julie Longman in digs (20)
UP NEXT: Ryerson will be back in action on Feb. 3 when they host the Windsor Lancers at 6:00 p.m.