No. 1 Rams limp to victory over Paladins

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By Kintaro Skinner

The Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team came into their seventh game of the season ranking number one in the nation for the first time this season.

However, their play was anything but spectacular against the Royal Military College (RMC) Paladins at the Mattamy Athletic Centre on Nov. 15 as they struggled towards a 3-1 (25-15, 25-16, 25-27, 25-16) victory.

“We’ve played teams with below .500 records and barely showed rally to rally that we’re a more accomplished team than them. That’s just unacceptable,” said Rams head coach Dustin Reid. “To be honest, we don’t deserve to wear the logo if that’s the way we’re going to treat our opponents.”

Despite some struggles in the third set, the win marks Ryerson’s 15th straight victory against RMC.

The Rams came out with a vengeance in the first two sets with outside hitter Cailin Wark getting familiar on her right side with her vicious cross-court kills.

Wark has established herself once again as one of the premier players in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) as she leads the league in kills and points.

“I feel that extra stats aren’t really that important, it’s more of the team play that matters, it’s nice to know but it’s over with, it’s behind [me] so we just gotta keep moving forward,” said Wark.

Peculiarly, OUA digs leader Samantha Cyrille and OUA assists leader Lauren Wong did not see any playing time.

They were replaced by libero Jyoti Ruparell and setter Alli Pauls in the starting lineup.

“We got a couple players coming back from injury and, no, there was no issue with those guys, it was just someone else’s turn,” said Reid on the starter situation.

RMC stormed back with a third set win as the Rams struggled to keep up. Blocks from the Paladins front proved key as they kept numerous rallies alive.

The Paladins celebrated the set win with wide-eyed screams and jumps for joy. It was an appropriate reaction as the Rams have won every single set against the team since 2015.

“I’m not sure if there is a group of people that I respect more than the teams at RMC, they represent their institution with the fight they show on the court,” said Reid.

The heroics of Wark almost led the Rams to a straight-set win but her five straight kills in the third set couldn’t propel Ryerson over the top.

She finished the game with an impressive 54.1 hitting percentage.

“The middles on our side ran really good patterns, so a lot of the time I was able to hit through the seam on the block and the setters put me in a good position to score,” said Wark.

It was still another day at the office for the top-ranked team in the country as the Rams finished off the Paladins in the fourth set to come away with their seventh consecutive win.

With a 7-0 record, that would suffice for almost every other team in the country. But coach Reid has high expectations for this roster.

“If we play anything like we’ve played in the last few weeks, we’re gonna get our asses handed to us,” said Reid. “You can quote me on that one.”

UP NEXT: The Rams take on their downtown rivals in the Toronto Varsity Blues at the Goldring Centre on Nov. 22. First serve flies at 6 p.m.

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