By Sam Beaudoin
The Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s volleyball team completed a sensational comeback Friday night, handing the nationally ranked Queen’s University Gaels their first loss of the season in a five set victory at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
For the second time in a week, the Bold took to the court at the MAC in hopes of handing their opponent their first loss of the season.
“I hope it shows our players that we can compete with the best teams,” said TMU head coach Dustin Reid. “Hopefully we can replicate that effort and execution against all the teams, not just the ones at the top of the league.”
The Gaels entered the match tied for second in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) conference standings with a perfect 4-0 record, while the Bold entered sitting at 2-3 on the young season.
The first set resembled the theme of the Bold’s season thus far. A closely fought, nail-biter set with both teams battling it out until the final point.
Despite the Gaels’ strong start to the season, they stumbled out of the gate on Friday. In part due to a handful of service errors, but also due to the Bold’s strong play at the net, with Scarlett Gingera and Julie Moore registering a handful of their kills in the match, propelling the Bold to a 25-20 opening set victory.
“That’s one of the best teams in the country, when we played as a unit we were able to take it to them a bit,” said Reid.
The second set was mostly controlled by the Gaels, as they established a fairly big lead and maintained it throughout the majority of the set. In addition to their strong play, Queen’s benefitted from self-inflicted errors by the Bold.
TMU recorded four service errors in the set and weren’t able to settle into their system as effectively as they’d liked, resulting in many free balls.
The Bold attempted to mount a comeback in the final moments of the set, going on a 5-0 run led by second-year hitter Jia Lonardi, however, the comeback fell just short and the Gaels took the set 25-20.
Queen’s carried over their momentum into the third set, maintaining a lead the entire time. The Bold, as they did all game, didn’t give up and continued to show extreme fight bringing things to within a single point at times. Despite a strong effort from the TMU squad, the Gaels won the set 25-19.
Throughout most of the fourth set, it appeared as if Queen’s would keep their perfect season alive.
“This early in the season, we’ve had a really tough start with a lot of teams that will be top of the conference,” said Moore. “It definitely gives us confidence going into the second half of our games next week.”
However, the Bold this time mounted a successful comeback in a 25-23 fourth set victory. The Bold were down 23-18 and rallied to bring the crowd at the MAC back to life.
“I think our group felt like they could win the next rally each time,” said Reid on his team’s comeback. “We had a good comeback a week ago on our court, I think they channelled that.”
Moore continued her match dominance in the final stages of the set, coming up with a number of her 21 kills and massive digs to help propel the match to a fifth set.
To start off the fifth set, it was all TMU as they rode their momentum from the fourth into the set. The Bold got out to an early 8-1 lead thanks to massive swings and blocks from Lonardi.
“In the fifth we came out super strong…We got them a bit tired and possibly off their game,” said Moore. “We capitalized when they were down, a huge win for us.”
The Gaels battled back, showing why they’re one of the OUA’s last undefeated teams. Queen’s brought the Bold lead down to two, but TMU was the hungrier team.
With the game on the line, Gingera finished off one of her eight kills of the match to send Queen’s into the loss column and the MAC into a frenzy.
The Bold will look to build on this momentum as these same two teams will meet once more Saturday night, with the Bold looking to get over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
“I felt like we really needed to come out on top tonight, hopefully, that will give us some relief that we can play these really good teams,” said Reid.
UP NEXT: The two teams battle again on Saturday night at the MAC. First serve flies at 7 p.m.