By Mitchell Fox
Players from both past and present will be leaned on this season as the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) Bold women’s volleyball team looks to rebound from one of the worst seasons in program history.
A 3-10 record last year—one head coach Dustin Reid called an outlier—is in the rearview mirror with the 2022-23 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) campaign already underway. Now, the team is looking for redemption.
The players are confident in the team’s ability, with new faces, better health and team spirit on their side. Second-year libero Mary Rioflorido said she was “stoked” for the new season.
“I don’t have any doubt about our team’s skill set being able to help us bounce back,” she said. “Our team chemistry is a lot stronger than our skill set and that says a lot.”
Rioflorido was a bright spot in her rookie campaign last year for the Bold. The libero earned a spot on the OUA All-Rookie team and was named TMU’s female rookie of the year.
“Are we coming out of the blocks feeling like we’re entitled to that success? No”
Third-year setter Alicia Lam said the squad is eager to put themselves in a better light, relying on resilience on and off the court.
“We’ve put a lot into training and just putting last season behind us but not forgetting it,” Lam said. “We’ve put down some goals as a team that are pretty high. And we’re excited for that.”
Head coach Reid said the team wants to compete for championships, not dwell on the past. He said their approach is to look at how to rebuild the program into a title contender.
“Are we coming out of the blocks feeling like we’re entitled to that success? No,” Reid said. “We’re working every day because we want to give ourselves a chance at that.”
One team member who knows about success in the blue and gold is new assistant coach Brett Hagarty, who played for TMU for two seasons—her last in 2020. The former OUA All-Star brings familiarity alongside Reid, the understanding that a full volleyball season is a grind and success, having been a part of a 2018-19 squad that came second in the nation.
Lam was also on the 2018-19 squad and said the team looks up to Hagarty, who still looked like she could suit up for the team after dazzling in practice.
“She puts in a lot of fun but she’s hard-working,” said Lam. “She keeps us grinding for sure.”
Rookie Elise Pridmore, the only first-year on the team’s active roster, said she remembers watching Hagarty play.
Pridmore said she watched the Bold play while she was in grades 9 and 10, as TMU was her first choice of a Canadian school. She said it was cool to have a coach in Hagarty who knows her way around TMU volleyball.
“It’s cool having her be part of practice because she gets to tell her stories and her experiences, as well as she knows a lot about how to run the drills,” she said.
Another new addition to the team this season is outside hitter Julie Moore. The fifth-year comes to TMU with a distinguished resume, including having been a two-time U Sports All-Canadian and four-time Atlantic University Sport First-Team All-Star during her career at Dalhousie University.
Lam called Moore an “unreal player,” while Reid said she has already surpassed the expectations brought with her pedigree on the court. But what stood out was the way she integrated into the team’s culture and leadership group.
“To do that when you’re someone with the accomplishments that she’s had as a player just speaks to how unique she is as a person,” said Reid.
The Bold are currently 1-2 and riding the momentum of a win over the University of Toronto Varsity Blues this past Saturday. They’ll have their hands full on Friday night when the undefeated McMaster Marauders trot into the Mattamy Athletic Centre.
“We’re all very like-minded, we find the same things funny,” said Rioflordio. “We’re just able to read each other’s minds without telling each other things.”