By Daniel Michael Centeno
The Ryerson Rams could not complete the fifth set comeback and fall 3-2 to the Queen’s Gaels—23-25, 14-25, 25-15, 25-14, 13-15—in Brett Hagarty’s final regular season match on Feb. 23 at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The fifth-year outside hitter was honoured before the match as a graduating senior for the Rams. Before her two-year tenure at Ryerson, Hagarty played three seasons for the Queen’s Gaels.
“It’s too bad we could not pull out the win. It’s a happy-sad time because it is one of the last times I will be playing here [MAC], and I’ve had such a good two years,” said Hagarty. “But, I’m so proud of how we came out in the second half of that match.”
Hagarty finished with 10 kills and 13 digs in the match. Ryerson was riding an eight-game win streak before today’s contest as it’s their first loss dating back to Jan. 10 against the Western Mustangs.
The Rams end the regular season with an 18-3 record, as they’ll enter the playoffs as the second seed in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) eastern conference.
Ryerson will be facing the Guelph Gryphons in the quarter-finals of the OUA playoffs.
After dropping the first two sets 23-25 and 14-25, the Rams offence surged to 25-15 and 25-14 wins in the third and fourth sets.
“After we lost our first two sets, Brett came and said, ‘This is something that we can win. We have more grit than this and more resilience,’” said Rams outside hitter Lauren Veltman. “This boosted our team confidence and helped us a lot.”
Veltman led the Rams offence with 15 kills and six digs.
Rams head coach Dustin Reid said the Gaels came out with “a lot of intensity and a lot of serving pressure.” Similar to last week’s match against the York Lions, Reid said the team needs to overcome slow starts and early deficits moving forward.
“They were excited to play, and we were just average. We expected them to play well and we did not have a great response,” said Reid. “We got to do a better job when the ball is on our side of the net and not make mistakes.”
The Rams had a 12-10 lead late but couldn’t hold on, dropping the fifth set 13-15.
“You look at the end of this match, and seven of [Queen’s] last nine points were on our mistakes. That’s not a great way to play a fifth set if you want to win it. Serving and hitting errors crept in at the worst times for us,” said Reid.
As the team sets their sights for the playoffs next week, Hagarty said she wants to end her time at Ryerson with a banner.
“I’m really fired up. I want to win, I want to bring home the banner. What that match showed was how deep our team is and we have so many different contributors. We have such a strong bench, and I’m very excited [about] going into the playoffs.”
“I hope that when we play our last game, wherever it is, that we can be happy with how we played, and not wishing we would’ve started better, or wishing something would have been different,” said Hagarty.
UP NEXT: Ryerson will host Guelph in the OUA quarter-finals at the MAC in their quest for the Quigley Cup