By Peter Ash
The Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team opened their season with a bang, defeating the Brock Badgers in four sets (25-20, 25-19, 23-25, 25-18) on Wednesday night at the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
Coming off of a championship season, the 2018-19 team unveiled the first-ever national title banner in school history.
— Peter Ash (@peterash_) October 25, 2018
When asked about how it felt to unveil the banner, Rams head coach Dustin Reid said that even though it was a big moment, it wasn’t something that he wanted to continuously think about. “Honestly, I haven’t thought about the championship win since April or May,” Reid said. “It was a great accomplishment, but it didn’t really set in until we got to celebrate it with the fans.”
Having not lost since 2017, the Rams were coming into this game with a boatload of confidence against a Badgers team that only won a total of six games last season. To start things off, the Rams continued to use the recipe that they followed last season, playing stingy defence while forcing Brock to commit unforced errors.
Incredible efforts by the Badgers seemed to be continuously cut off by the Rams’ ability to find a way to get a point. Led by outside hitter Lauren Veltman and middle blocker Theanna Vernon, the defending champions would eventually close it out, taking the first set by a score of 25-20.
The second set was much of the same, as Ryerson cruised to a six-point lead early on. Despite their efforts, the Badgers wouldn’t be able to crack the Rams’ code, with the home team taking the set by a score of 25-19.
Things were different, however, in the third period. Brock didn’t go down without a fight, pushing the Rams to a 12-12 tie to start.
Ryerson took control after a quick timeout, but six unanswered points by Brock gave the home team their first deficit of the entire match at 22-23. The Badgers rode their momentum all the way to a 25-23 third set, giving the Rams their first dropped set since the national championship game against Alberta.
“There was even a timeout where our coach (Reid) said ‘okay, we need a second’ after the third set,” Veltman said. “We just had to adjust accordingly… Their defence picked up in the third set.”
Despite not having a lot of momentum behind them, the Rams came out like nothing had happened, playing their style of volleyball while putting the pressure on Brock’s defence. Once again, errors would make their mark on the Badgers, with the road team racking up eight miscues in the frame. Ryerson eventually regained the momentum, and took it all the way home for a 25-18 fourth set and the victory.
Veltman had a huge impact in the game, finishing with 12 kills. Theanna Vernon also kept her tremendous play going, adding two blocks and 12 kills of her own.
“It was a tricky night for our team,” Reid said while talking about the flow of the game. “[It was] an emotional night. We expected to play well, and for the most part, we did. In the third, we lost our focus a little bit, and that’s what an immature team does. We’re definitely going to have to adjust to it going forward.”
Newcomers Brett Hagarty and Sara Piana were impressive in their Rams debuts, adding a combined total of nine kills and 25 total attempts. Outside hitter Cailin Wark added eight kills of her own in the victory.
UP NEXT: The Rams will take on Queen’s at Coca-Cola Court on Friday Nov. 2. First serve is scheduled at 6:00 p.m.