By Gavin Axelrod
Lightning didn’t strike twice for the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s volleyball team in their back-to-back with the Queen’s Gaels at the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC).
The Bold dropped Saturday’s contest to the country’s seventh-ranked team in three sets, one day removed from handing the Gaels their first loss of the season. Victory would’ve given TMU a winning record for the first time this season, but they’ll get a chance to achieve that feat when the Guelph Gryphons roll into town next week.
“It’s been very difficult and we’ve had some great results against some really good teams,” said Bold head coach Dustin Reid. “I think we can play against those teams, the style that we see Western and Toronto and [McMaster] and Queen’s playing. We can play that style, on a good day we can beat those teams.”
Saturday’s first set saw the visitors come out firing, fresh off being handed their first loss of the season. Queen’s jumped out to a 20-14 lead early, but the Bold settled in to make things interesting.
The Bold went on a small run, making it 20-17, but that’s as close as they’d get in the opener. Queen’s used a string of attack and service errors to pull away and take the first set.
“The reality is our opponent upped their level today and really greatly reduced their mistakes,” said Reid. “Yesterday they had 35 hitting errors, today they had 12. Hard to deal with that.”
The Bold were forced into a timeout down 18-12 in the second set. Despite the Bold’s chance to regain momentum, the Gaels kept piling onto their lead, going up 23-13 at one point in the set.
Queen’s cruised to victory in the night’s second set, holding TMU to just 14 points and had a clean sweep in their sights.
But the third set started promising for the Bold, who opened with a 4-1 lead. A key adjustment for TMU was subbing in veteran setter Alicia Lam, who didn’t play in the first two sets of the match. Reid added that Lam put the team in a good spot to win the set, but they waited for the opponents to give them easy points.
Queen’s wasn’t going away either, which led to many ties and TMU being unable to pull away. Up 14-12 the Bold forced the Gaels into a timeout as the tightly-contest set hit its stretch run.
“We know what our worst looks like and we also know what our best looks like,” said second-year libero Mary Rioflorido. “I think that skill wise we’re not lacking chemistry, team-wise we’re not lacking so when things click they really click for us.”
The Gaels regained their momentum from the match’s prior two sets following the timeout, going up 18-15 and forcing Reid to call a timeout for the home side.
The visitors’ dominance was on full display, as they went on a 6-0 run, taking a 20-16 lead. But the Bold weren’t going away and the contingent of fans that made the trek from Kingston, Ont., were on the verge of putting their brooms away.
TMU nearly battled all the way back, led by a kill from fifth-year Julie Moore and strong play from Katelyn Grasman at the net to tie the set at 21-21. The Bold momentarily took a 22-21 lead, but the match was knotted up again when a hit from Moore sailed long.
Queen’s put the finishing touches on a three-set victory, killing any chance of a TMU comeback in the set. The visitors, led by a game-high 14 points from Hannah Duchesneau, took the back-and-forth third set 25-22.
TMU drops to 3-4 with the loss, but will have a shot at getting above .500 with a back-to-back on home court against Guelph next week. The Gryphons sat 10th in the Ontario University Athletics conference as of Saturday night.
“That’s not an easy team to play against, very different style than what we saw today,” said Reid. “But it’s really important matches that if we want to end the first half on a good note, we need to be ready.”
UP NEXT: The Bold look to return to their winning ways on Dec. 2 against Guelph. First serve flies at the MAC at 6 p.m.