By Nick Reis
The concept of completing a season undefeated is usually more fantasy than reality. There are the supporters and the doubters, the faithful and the realists, but ultimately the outcome is decided through hard work and perspiration on the playing field.
Only a select few teams have achieved the perfect regular season, including the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the 1948 Calgary Stampeders and the 2007 New England Patriots. Now, the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team is a part of that elite collection.
With Ryerson’s win over the Nipissing Lakers Sunday, the Rams improved to 19-0 on the season.
Before this season, the closest Ryerson has come to being undefeated was last season, finishing with a 15-4 record to place them second in the OUA East. This season, the Rams destroyed their previous longest win streak of nine games, and now the team is a favourite for the Quigley Cup playoffs and U Sports championship.
Head coach Dustin Reid has been coaching the women’s team for nine years. His teams have had success before, but never like this.
“There are a lot of things that I’m proud about that are part of our record this season. The people that we have on our staff and roster, the way they embrace being a Ryerson Ram student athlete, how well they treat each other. Those are things that go beyond and are much more important than winning and losing,” he said Sunday.
“We had a lot of times when we didn’t play great, but we found a way to make it to the finish line.”
On top of fighting against some of the league’s top talent, Reid knew that as they got deeper into their win streak they would have to start fighting against themselves.
“Without a doubt [complacency was an issue]. We’d like to think we won one game 19 times, but the reality is human nature is different and it’s hard to treat some opponents with the same amount of respect as others.”
Setter Maddy Timpany, a second-year sport media student, attributed the team’s success to their chemistry and competitive drive.
“I think this season everyone has had such collective mindset that we really want to win this year,” she said.
“Since the beginning of the year it’s been very natural, and the team meshes so well together. When you put together our genuine relationships, talented athletes and drive to win, it makes sense why we’ve been so successful so far.”
Now heading into the playoffs, the Rams will have to wipe their slate clean and begin winning in the postseason.
“You don’t get any awards for winning in the regular season,” Reid said. “If there is something we can carry forward, [it’s that] we have the ability to come back and win, we have the ability to overcome the challenges that we face and remain confident in our ability to win matches even if we aren’t playing our best.”
Ryerson’s next match will be their OUA quarter-final game against the Waterloo Warriors at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on March 3. Win or lose, Reid knows this season was special.
“There will come a time when regardless how the playoffs go that we will be able to look back on what was a pretty special year for us,” he said.
But it’s safe to say that nobody would be opposed to making a deep playoff run.