By Chris Sanders
Thanks to a perfect start, Ryerson’s women’s volleyball team has one thing on its mind: gold.
“I knew we’d have a strong team,” said head coach Dustin Reid. “Thus far our record is good, but I’d like to see us deal with adversity a little more.”l
After finishing last year with a 15-5 record, the Rams have come back even stronger. With a perfect 12-0 record, the team currently ranks atop the OUA with a total of 24 points during that span.
Given their tremendous start, the team now has a chance to surpass their 2017 mark with seven games in hand, despite losing stars like Becky Zeeman and Veronica Livingston.
With no losses so far, the Rams’ biggest challenger might be themselves. An undefeated record comes with added pressure and could lead to overconfidence for a young lineup featuring only six seniors. So far, so good.
“It’s hard staying level-headed,” said senior middle blocker Theanna Vernon. “Every week we practice and work hard to concentrate on what’s to come for the next weekend.”
“The seniors have all been in our position before,” said rookie Kelly Schaefer. “They know what we’re going through and what they need to do to make us feel comfortable.”
The young players haven’t been slouches either. Second-year outside hitter Lauren Veltman has been a dominant force, setting career-highs with 162 points, 78 digs and 139 kills (2nd in the OUA). Fellow second-year outside hitters Cailin Wark and Janelle Albert have shown flashes of stardom as well, but they still haven’t reached their full potential.
On top of that, Vernon and Julie Longman form a veteran tandem at the core of one of the best defenses in the league.
In 2016, the Rams lost to the University of Toronto in the OUA championships. In last year’s bronze medal match, Toronto beat Ryerson again. Now, the Rams are hoping to put those losses behind them to claim the gold.
“It’s been the same mentality as always,” said Vernon on the team’s thought process. “We just look forward to the next [game].”
With the playoffs just around the corner, the Rams are looking to prove their regular season isn’t a fluke.
“As a program, we’re trying to contend for a championship every year,” said Reid. “We want to build ourselves so we’re playing our best volleyball heading into the playoffs.”